Muslim Charity lays Claim top Taj Mahal
By Kulsum Talha BBC News, Lucknow
Millions of people flock to Taj Mahal every year. An Indian Muslim charity has laid claim to the ownership of the world's most famous monument to love, the Taj Mahal.
The Sunni Waqf Board controls all Muslim graveyards in the state of Uttar Pradesh, where the spectacular marble monument is located.
It says the Taj Mahal houses several Muslim graves other than those of the Moghul royalty and thus falls under its jurisdiction.
Millions seeking romance flock to the Taj Mahal every year.
The monument was built by the 17th century Moghul emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal and has since become a Mecca of sorts for amorous couples.
The Sunni Waqf Board (SWB), a Muslim trust, was given ownership of Uttar Pradesh's Muslim graveyards by the Indian government itself.
The board has issued notices to the Archaeological Survey of India as well as the central government, seeking their reply to its demand by the end of March.
Speaking to the BBC, SWB chairman Hafiz Usman said that other than the graves of the emperor and his wife, several other Muslim graves were also located within the Taj Mahal's boundary.
The presence of a mosque and a tomb within the complex clearly brings it under the board's jurisdiction, he says.
The board has quasi-judicial powers and has threatened to take an ex parte decision if its end March deadline is not met.
Mr Usman said once the ownership issue had been decided, the board would demand that 7% of the total earnings from tickets should be transferred to its coffers.
The board also wants the power to regularly audit the accounts of the monuments and ensure that the money is not frittered away but used properly for the maintenance of the building.
He said the board did not stake a claim to the monument earlier as it had not wanted to enter into any controversy.
But it seems that nearly 350 years after it was built, the Taj Mahal again stands mired in controversy.
7%. Which of course will go to orphaned Muslim children.
And their schools.