Mohammad Azam Khan
Uttar Pradesh Minority Affairs Minister and Waqf Minister Mohammad Azam Khan.Reuters File

Uttar Pradesh Minority Affairs Minister and Waqf Minister Mohammad Azam Khan has demanded to hand over Taj Mahal along with the income generated through it to the Sunni Central Waqf Board, pointing out that it is a mausoleum.

"Taj Mahal is a mausoleum and each mausoleum is 'Waqf' and comes under the Sunni Central Waqf Board," said the Samajwadi Party leader. 

Islamic Law defines Waqf as an endowment to religious, educational and charitable purposes. Khan's demand was at the backdrop of the fact that every tombs in the country are under the jurisdiction of religious bodies.

"Wherever there are tombs, they are under the (jurisdiction of the) Central Waqf Board. The Taj Mahal has the tombs of two Muslims; one is Shah Jahan and the other Mumtaz Mahal. If it is in cheap and poor condition, it means it's under the Waqf Board. But if it's an expensive structure, then it belongs to the government of India," he added.

Khan said the income generated from tourism should be used towards education of Muslims. Being one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Taj Mahal is one of the most visited sites in the world.

"The (Waqf) board can run at least two universities from the income from this (Taj Mahal)," he added.

However, President of the Delhi Waqf Board Chaudhary Mateen Ahmad disagreed with Khan and said the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) "can do better maintenance and it is not right to make such demands."

Commenting on the same, BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain accused Khan of creating misunderstanding and politicising Taj Mahal.

"Azam Khan knows that Taj Mahal is a famous heritage and the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) takes care of it. He is trying to create misunderstanding by making such comment. The Taj Mahal should not be politicised," Hussain said.