Centuries-old Masjid Akhonji torn down in Indian capital

Centuries-old Masjid Akhonji torn down in Indian capital

New Delhi: Bulldozers have knocked down a centuries-old mosque in India’s capital, a member of the mosque’s managing committee said on Thursday during a demolition drive to remove “illegal” structures from a forest reserve.

The , Masjid Akhonji, which its caretakers say is around 600 years old, was home to 22 students enrolled in an Islamic boarding school.

The demolition took place barely a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a grand new Hindu temple in the northern city of Ayodhya, built on grounds once home to the centuries-old Babri mosque.

That mosque was torn down in 1992 in a campaign spearheaded by members of Modi's party, sparking sectarian riots that killed 2,000 people nationwide, most of them Muslims.

Hindu activist groups have also laid claim to the disputed Gyanvapi mosque in the Indian holy city of Varanasi, which they say was built over a Hindu temple during the Muslim Mughal empire centuries ago.

Hindu worshippers entered the Gyanvapi mosque on Thursday to pray after a local court gave them permission to do so.

Calls for India to enshrine Hindu supremacy have rapidly grown louder since Modi took office in 2014, making the country's roughly 210-million-strong Muslim minority increasingly anxious about their future.