The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Thief got a Taj, 300 yrs ago
- King dedicates mazaar, now in dilapidated condition

Didarganj (Patna), July 18: Noori Baba was no Mumtaz Mahal. Neither had he got a relationship with someone like Shah Jahan.

Certainly, the great thief of his time could ever think of a monument being dedicated to him, like the Taj Mahal, and that too by a king appreciating a challenging feat of theft.

Passers-by along the NH-30 — connecting Patna with Barh — would not even notice this dilapidated mazaar at Didarganj check-post, about 20km from here. Those with religious inclination generally stop here for a while to rue the status of the 300-year-old mazaar, locally known as “chorba masjid” (mosque of the thief).

It is, however, not known whether thieves in and around the Bihar capital visit this mazaar like lovers across the world would want to make a memorable trip to the Taj to click a picture on the lovers’ seat!

“Just because it is called chorba masjid does not mean that thieves come here,” said Hafiz Mastan Islamuddin, the only caretaker at the mazaar of Hazrat Noorshah Baba Rahamatullah Alaih — popularly known as Noori Baba — for the past 20 years.

Islamuddin, dressed in a green chonga and sporting garlands of beads and coloured stones, has no hesitation in accepting that he has been serving “a pir of thieves and hoodlums”. Incidentally, he found two knives near the mazaar about six months ago.

Clarifying that it is not a mosque, the 50-year-old said that Baba Rahamatullah or Noori Baba was such a great thief that nobody could ever get hold of him.

Islamuddin, who remains unmarried and left his ancestral home at Manersharif, explained how the mazaar came up. The myth goes something like this: the king (name not known to anybody) of then Nasirpur-Tajpur (now Didarganj) challenged Rahamatullah to dare a theft in his palace. Rahamatullah had accepted the challenge to commit it within seven days amid foolproof security saying “main to aankhon se kajal chura sakta hoon (I can steal collyrium from one’s eyes)”.

After seven days when no theft was reported at the palace, Rahamatullah was produced before the king to withdraw his claim.

While narrating this, Islamuddin takes a deep puff to conclude with great pride: “Rahamatullah produced a gold bangle he had stolen from the queen’s hand. The queen was seen wearing just one bangle much to everyone’s disbelief.”

The king was greatly happy at the thief’s act and asked him to keep the gold bangle. Rahamatullah returned the bangle and wanted the king to construct a monument after his death. And thus came the chorba masjid, now a landmark for Didarganj.

Local residents said though the mazaar gets good visitors, including VIPs, nobody thought of repairing the tomb, broken to half some 50 years ago. An 8ftx8ft cement roof over the mazaar is the only protection.

Mohammed Firoz, a local electrician, said: “The area is not theft-prone. We have no idea whether criminals come here from adjoining places.”

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