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Wednesday, 20 March, 2002, 16:49 GMT
Court intervenes to protect Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal has been the subject of security fears
The Supreme Court of India has intervened to settle a row between the central and the state governments over who should provide security to the country's most famous landmark - the Taj Mahal.

The court has ordered the two governments to present their detailed plans to prevent any possible militant attack on the 17th century mausoleum which has become a universal symbol of love.

The issue of the Taj Mahal's security came up while the court was hearing a petition seeking to prevent the monument from air pollution.

The white marble mausoleum faces threats from militants.

Security around the monument was tightened after the 11 September attacks on the US.

Security row

Lawyers representing the central government sought the Supreme Court's permission to deploy the paramilitary Central Industrial Security Force around the Taj Mahal.

Taj Mahal
The shiny dome is an easy target from the air

They said the state police had failed to protect the monument in October when activists of the youth wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party forced their way into the Taj Mahal.

Though there was no real damage to the mausoleum, the mob vandalised its front lawns and the pool.

This was strongly challenged by the government of Uttar Pradesh which said the state police was fully equipped to protect the monument.

State government representatives said the police had prepared contingency security plans to prevent recurrence of mob invasions.

Continuing threats

The Taj Mahal is revered as one of the world's most beautiful buildings.

Resting on the banks of the Yamuna River, it was built by Mogul Emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in child birth.

The building has been the subject of security fears before.

It has been closed at night since 1984, when Sikh militants threatened to attack it.

A new threat came in January this year, when police said they had received an e-mail sent by a Kashmiri militant group threatening to attack the celebrated monument.

There were also plans to camouflage the mausoleum early this year with dark cloth as protection against possible bombing raids in the event of war with neighbouring Pakistan.

See also:

03 Jan 02 | South Asia
Security increased at Taj Mahal
29 Dec 01 | South Asia
Taj Mahal 'to be camouflaged'
26 Sep 01 | South Asia
Security tightened at Taj Mahal
22 Jun 01 | South Asia
Hotel group bails out Taj Mahal
10 Nov 00 | Media reports
Taj Mahal disappears under magic spell
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