Malappuram: Parts of a 500-year-old mosque -- Misri Palli at Ponnani near here -- was demolished on Wednesday for renovation, but the works were stopped midway after the intervention of Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan.
Municipality chairman C P Muhammed Kunji said directions were already given to the custodians of Misri Palli that the mosque was included in the heritage protection list and should not be demolished.
He said the mosque authorities defied the direction and went ahead with the demolition job.
Earlier also many old mosques and ancestral houses with historic importance were demolished for renovation, challenging the objections from the municipality, he said.
Ponnani Valiyapalli (mosque) and 'Makhdoom Valiyalom' were demolished in a similar way and the protests gathered momentum when more historical monuments were demolished.
The Misri Palli was built after the visit of traders from Egypt.
They are believed to have reached the shore after a shipwreck and promised to built a mosque as a thanksgiving gesture.
Another version is that the mosque was built for the traders, who also helped the Zamorin's army from Ponnani. This is also mentioned in the historical work Tuhafat Ul Mujahideen by Zainuddin Makhdoom.
Misri Palli has an architecture rich in Arabic calligraphy, and historians had suggested that it should be preserved as a legacy.
The mosque was included in the Muziris project initiated by the Speaker, who is also the MLA of Ponnani.
Within half-an-hour, the news of the demolition spread and the Speaker intervened to stop the demolition.
Muhammed Kunji said the municipality would hold talks with the custodians of the mosque.
He added that a notice would be served to the mosque officials regarding the demolition of the mosque.
Mosque committee president Hamza Haji said they custodians were not informed that the mosque was included in the 'heritage list'.
“We are poor fishermen and for the past five years we have been seeking funds to renovate the mosque, which is in a dilapidated condition. When the demolition works were half way through, Speaker called and municipality officials came. They informed that a meeting would be called by the Speaker in two days regarding the work. We fear that if the works are delayed, whatever monetary support we have now would also be lost,” he said.