India to beef up security at Taj Mahal over threats from Hindu fanatics

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AGRA: Indian authorities announced that they would beef up security at iconic Taj Mahal over threats from far-right Hindu groups to perform aarti at the monument.

According to local media,  authorities wrote a letter stating that under the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 any kind of religious practice and beginning of a new tradition in the protected monument is against the rules of the Act.

On July 17, Agra Shiv Sena President Veenu Lavania had challenged the district administration and police to stop him and his aides from offering ‘aarti’ at the Taj Mahal.

L“Taj Mahal is not a mausoleum but Tejo Mahalaya, a temple of Lord Shiva. We will perform ‘aarti’ at Tejo Mahalaya on every Monday of ‘Sawan’,” he said

The Superintending Archaeologist of ASI of Agra circle, Vasant Swarankar, said that no ‘aarti’ or ‘puja’ has ever been performed in the Taj Mahal.

“We have requested the district authorities to make proper security arrangements outside the Taj Mahal,” he said.

This is not the first time when right-wing groups have attempted to create controversy over-performing ‘puja’ inside the Taj Mahal.

Last year, a group of women from right-wing organizations had performed ‘puja’ in the mosque inside the Taj Mahal to prove that the monument was originally a Shiv temple.