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2016-02-06 05:49:53

High Court asks MP Govt. to ensure peaceful Friday ‘Namaz’ in Dhar town

An uneasy calm prevails in Dh?r town, which is located in the Malwa region of western Madhya Pradesh state in central India, as local residents with bated breath await the dawn of next Friday, the 12th of February, 2016.

A part of the Bhojshala complex at Dhar.Photo by A.M. Faruqui ,Frontline

The Dhar residents are tensed up as rightwing Hindu outfits are flexing their muscles to storm the 11th century historical centrally protected monument designated as Bhojshala-Kamaal Maula’s mosque violating the order of Archaeological Survey of India, (ASI). These rightwing fringe elements are hell bent to violate the ASI order and occupy the monument for the whole day in the name of celebrating Basant Panchami. Thereby they intend not to allow Muslims to offer their special mandatory Friday “Namaz” (prayers).

It may be noted here that right-wing Hindutva organisations have mischievously advanced the date of Basant Panchami festival by a day to February 12 to clash with Friday prayers of Muslims. The festival actually falls on February 13.   

A raging battle for supremacy between Hindus and Muslims, which has all the trappings of another Babri Masjid dispute at Ayodhya, seems to snowball in Dhar, a tribal-dominated district. Both the communities are adamant not to give leeway to the other and offer prayers in the 11th century shrine “Bhojshala” on February 12.

Seeing the rising tension and fear of Dhar Muslims right being usurped to offer Friday “Namaz” on February 12, 2016 the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, (AIMPLB), executive member Arif Masood had moved the Indore Bench of MPHC to intervene and safeguard their rights as Basant Panchami is also falling on the “same day” and Hindu zealots want to occupy the mosque whole day.

All India Muslim Personal Law Board, (AIMPLB), executive member Arif Masood (2nd from right) addressing a Press Conference in Bhopal.

On the plea of AIMPLB the Madhya Pradesh High Court, (MPHC), on Thursday has ordered the Madhya Pradesh Government to inform it as to what steps have been taken by it to ensure peaceful conduct of Friday prayers on ensuing February 12 by Muslims in the 11th century Kamal Moula Masjid in Dhar town of the state.

Addressing a Press conference Arif Masood said that on the plea of AIMPB the High Court comprising of two member bench Justice PK Jaiswal and Justice J. K. Jain on Thursday ordered the Madhya Pradesh Government to inform it as to what steps have been taken by it to ensure peaceful conduct of Friday prayers by Muslims and prayers by Hindu Community as the Basant Panchami is also falling on the same day. Further that what lessons it had learnt from the past mistakes made by it in the similar circumstances. The court told the State Government to submit its reply over the issue by February 8.

The petitioner has knocked the court doors with the plea that in 2013 when the similar conditions existed the State Government then failed to comply with the court orders as the Hindu activists had refused to vacate the premises or to honour the arrangement of allowing Muslims to offer “Namaz” between 1 pm and 3 pm.

In year 2006 and 2013, Vasant (Basant) Panchami was on Friday, so the demand of the Hindus to perform puja in Bhojshala for the full day was refused and the police also used force against Hindu devotees and arrested many.

Arif Masood said: “Some Hindutva organisations have announced to perform prayers of Basant Panchami on Friday February 12 whereas the festival according to Hindu calendar is scheduled to be celebrated across the country on February 13. This step of the rightwing organisations to pre-pone the festival wilfully to harass the Muslims has created tension in the State. The BJP-ruled State Government seems to be under pressure of these outfits and is making arrangements to conduct Basant Panchami prayers a day ahead that is on Friday only. Seeing the negligent past record of the Dhar district administration the Muslims are apprehensive and don’t trust the State Government”, he added.

    Meanwhile, it may be mentioned here that “Bhojshala” is a notified Central Waqf monument under the supervision of the ASI which maintains it. The monument houses Kamaal Maula Mosque where Muslims are permitted to offer Friday prayers by the ASI. While an unused water tank meant for ablution in the complex wherein Hindus are allowed to celebrate their Basant Panchami festival. 

    It may be pointed out here that ASI in its order dated January 20, 2016 has allowed Muslims to offer Namaz at the structure from 1-3 pm and Hindus to observe customary religious practices from sunrise to 12 noon and 3.30 pm to sunset. Exactly such type of order was issued by the ASI in 2006 and 2013 when a similar controversy cropped up due to Basant Panchami falling on Friday.

    Meanwhile, right-wing hardliners of Dhar opposed and boycotted a Sadbhavana Rally (peace march) organised by the administrationon Thursday ahead of Basant Panchami. The hardliners called a half-day bandh to oppose the rally. Shops and other business establishments remained closed till afternoon.

    Gopal Sharma, convenor of Dharm Jagran Vibhag, an outfit of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, reportedly said: “We have opposed the Sadbhavana Rally and a majority of Hindus have not taken any part in this rally. This sort of rally is always organised on the occasion of Hindu festival and not during Muslim festivals. The aim of these rallies is to create fear in Hindu community. We have no acrimony against anyone or any community then why has the administration organised this rally”

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