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Kamaal Maula Masjid/Bhojshala Controversy:

Palpable communal tension pervading MP town

Friday February 15, 2013 12:33:12 AM, Pervez Bari,


Bhopal: Palpable communal tension is pervading Dhār town, located in the Malwa region of western Madhya Pradesh state in central India, wherein a standoff between two communities over the use of an old historic Archaeological Survey of India, (ASI), protected monument known as Kamaal Maula Masjid/Bhojshala on February 15, 2013 when Basant Panchami has coincided with Friday prayers.

Hindus in violation of the ASI directives are hell bent to occupy the monument on Friday February 15, the whole day to perform religious rituals on the occasion of Basant Panchami, while Muslims as per tradition are not ready to forgo their special Friday prayers in the afternoon which has ASI sanctions.

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 15.

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 has fixed different timings people of both the communities for entry into the Bhojshala complex on February 14 and 15. A similar order was issued by the ASI in 2006, when a similar controversy cropped up.

MP Govt. on Tenterhooks
The Bharatiya Janata Party, (BJP), ruled Madhya Pradesh Government is on tenterhooks as Hindu saints and seers camping at Allahabad in Kumbh Mela have threatened to swamp Dhar town if Muslims are allowed to perform special Juma prayers on February 15 as it would impede their day-long Basant Panchami celebrations in Bhojshala. The Madhya Pradesh Government’s bid to dissuade the saints and seers from their resolve has failed.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh had deputed his Culture Minister Laxmikant Sharma along with BJP Organisational general secretary Arvind Menon as state government’s representatives to deliberate with saints and seers to allow Muslims to offer Juma prayers. Sharma and Menon, who were air-dashed in the state plane, apprised Shankaracharya Swami Narendranand Saraswati, Swami Premanand Giri and other saints with scenario on Bhojshala issue. They reportedly told them that the state government holds the responsibility to maintain law and order in this matter while ASI under the Central Government which controls the monument has issued the directives of Puja and Namaz timings.

According to sources state government representatives’ plea fell on dumb ears and the saints did not budge from their stand that if Namaz is allowed on February 15 then would agitate. It is learn that large number of saints along with Swami Narendranand Saraswati are preparing to reach Dhar and offer Puja on Friday on Basant Panchami. These saints clearly said to the representatives that suppression of Hindu community would not be tolerated for state government’s vote bank politics. On return on Wednesday evening Sharma and Menon apprised Chief Minister Chouhan of the whole state of affairs. Chouhan has issued orders to strengthen security arrangements in he wake of saints moving towards Dhar.

The Dhar district administration is in a fix as how to avoid a likely clash between Hindus and Muslims on February 15. Massive security cordon has been thrown around the Bhojshala-Kamaal Moula mosque as defiant saffron organizations are adamant on not vacating the premises of the controversial religious structure on February 15 for the time allotted by the ASI to Muslims to offer Friday Namaz. The defiance has only aggravated tension even as the Dhar district administration has taken precautionary measures to avert any untoward situation on Basant Panchami.

Maharaja Bhoj Utsav Samiti, the organization spearheading the campaign for exclusive right to the Hindus to offer prayer on February 15, declared on Wednesday that Hindus will continue prayers throughout the day at Bhojshala on February 15.

Samiti president Ashok Jain and Hindu Jagaran Manch (HJM) district convenor Nirbhay Singh Patel, reportedly said that the celebrations on February 15 have been scheduled and will not be changed. Jain alleged that the district administration is creating an environment of fear by flag marches, domination marches and pressuring social volunteers. The administration has erected barricades everywhere in the district ahead of Basant Panchami, he alleged.

The administration has already made a dozen preventive arrests including that of Nawal Kishor Sharma, the main instigator and former RSS Pracharak.

Meanwhile, according to an order issued by the ASI Director General Pravin Srivastava on Monday last, the Muslim community would be allowed access to the premises on February 15 from 1 pm to 3 pm. While the Hindu community shall be permitted access to the premises on February 14 from morning till evening and on February 15, they would be allowed entry morning to evening except between 12 to 3.30 pm, it said. The order has been issued as a special case and is applicable only on February 14 and 15, it mentioned. Bhojshala complex is home to a Saraswati temple and Kamaal Maula mosque.

Generally, every Tuesday Hindus offer prayers at Bhojshala while Muslims offer Namaz every Friday. During the Basant Panchami festival, Hindus are allowed to perform puja at the monument the whole day.

The above arrangement was made following regular disputes between the two communities. Coincidentally, Basant Panchami and the Friday Jumma Namaz this year are falling on the same day--February 15. Some Hindu organisations have demanded that they should be allowed to offer prayers at the temple for the whole day on Basant Panchami.

On Tuesday, over 3,000 people reached the place to offer prayers amidst tight security. The whole Bhojshala complex has turned into a barrack. Special barricades were installed in view of heavy turnout of the devotees there. Since the Hindu Jagran Manch, (HJM), was demanding removal of wired fencing at the complex, the administration had removed it on Monday night.

Kamaal Maula Masjid a Waqf Property
Meanwhile, according to former Madhya Pradesh Minister & ex-chairman of Minorities Commission Ibrahim Qureshi has asserted that the disputed Bhojshala structure is the Jama Masjid of Dhar, a small town near Indore. The structure, known as Kamaal Maula Masjid, is a Waqf property and neither the state nor the federal government has any right to change the use or structure of Waqf property.

Qureshi had submitted a report to this effect to the then state Chief Minister Digvijay Singh which said that disputed monument actually is Jama Masjid Dhar, which was later known as Bhojshala. The report said that under the Central Waqf Act, 1954, and the notification issued by the MP government on Jan. 18, 1985, Jama Masjid Dhar was declared a Waqf property. And under Section 6 of the new Central Waqf Act, 1995, all disputes related to waqf property should be referred to the competent court within a year for early disposal. He said only the Waqf Tribunal could solve the ownership and other related matters under the new Central Waqf Act 1995. As far as Jama Masjid was concerned, no case was pending in any court, he pointed out. The Jama Masjid Dhar was a religious place of Muslims and it was protected under Sections 4 & 6 of The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, he added.

He further said that as far as the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was concerned, it has only the responsibility of the maintenance and protection of historical monuments. He pointed out that neither the federal government nor the state government has a right to change the usage or its character. And if the federal government wanted to change the character of the building, then it had to make the necessary amendments in the Central Waqf Act, 1995 and the Places of Worship Act, 1991.

Meanwhile, in order to pre-empt any disturbance near Bhojshala on Basant Panchami, the Indore police arrested chief instigator of the protest, Nawal Kishore Sharma, from Vijay Nagar area with a pistol and live cartridges.

The arrest triggered a bandh in Dhar called by saffron organisations. They alleged unlawful detainment of Sharma. Additional superintendent of police (Dhar) Bittu Sehgal told DNA that Naval Kishore and his cousin Harsh Sharma were arrested from different places in connection with a case related to disturbing communal harmony registered at Dhar Kotwali police station. Eight others have been arrested in Dhar in connection with the same case, he said.

Naval Kishore was later admitted to the MY Hospital after he complained of chest pain. A former RSS pracharak, Sharma formed Maa Saraswati Mandir Bhojshala Mukti Yagya Samiti and had been campaigning for sole right for Hindus to offer prayers at the Bhojshala.

Protesting Sharma's arrest saffron activists hit the streets accusing the administration of fabricating evidence against him in Dhar. Shopkeepers downed their shutters and educational institutes remained closed. Meanwhile, security was beefed up in Dhar. Additional 6000 personnel were summoned to keep the situation under control on Basant Panchami.

Meanwhile, according to website 'Bhojshala' is an ancient and the only temple of Mata Saraswati, built by Raja Bhoj in 1034 AD. ('See Photo Evidences') Bhojshala was home to thousands of students and scholars and it was main centre of education. Attacks on Bhojshala started from 1305 AD and Muslims built today's Kamal Moulana dargah near Bhojshala.

The website says that Bhojshala has become victim of Governments of Madhya Pradesh due to appeasement of Muslims for votes. Today ASI allows everyone to go inside Bhojshala 'as a tourist' with fees. On every Tuesday, Hindus are allowed to enter in Bhojshala and offer flowers and akshata to Saraswati Mata. But since the new idol of Vagdevi is seized by Madhya Pradesh government and kept in Gwalior jail, Hindus can't offer anything to Saraswati Mata. On every Friday, Muslims are allowed to offer Namaz in Bhojshala complex. Vasant (Basant) Panchami, also known as Mata Saraswati Jayanti is the only day in the year on which Hindus are allowed to perform full-fledged puja by taking idol or photo of Mata Saraswati inside Bhojshala. So, Muslims can offer Namaz in Bhojshala 52 times in a year, but Hindus can perform puja only once in a year. It should be noted that Dhar, where Bhojshala is located, has 16 mosques to offer Namaz, the website pointed out.

In year 2006, 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. Now this year 2013, again Vasant (Basant) Panchami happens to be on Friday and Hindu Devotees are demanding to perform puja for the whole day and restrict Muslims to offer Namaz in Bhojshala on this day. Also the BJP Govt. should release Vagdevi (Mata Saraswati) idol from Gwalior Jail, which was installed by Hindus in Bhojshala.

Hindus Demonstrate at BJP Headquarter
A news item on the website said: “Since the true face of BJP in Madhya Pradesh in appeasing Muslims is being exposed, and as a result of that Shankaracharya and Saints-Sages in Kumbh Mela have threatened to launch an agitation against BJP, the BJP Government in M.P. has taken steps to suppress this agitation by abducting Mr. Naval Kishore Shrama, National Coordinator of Shri Saraswati Temple Mukti Yadnya Samiti and past-Sangh Pracharak, assaulting him physically, and lodging false criminal cases against him. Because of this only, any no including media representatives is allowed to meet him, nor the police are stating clearly as to where is he arrested. However, not only this agitation will not be suppressed, but also the agitations will now be launched all over the Bharat by all Hindutvavadi organisations on this issue, and BJP will have to pay for this in next elections”.

Agitations in New Delhi were held in front of the Head Quarters of BJP. Mr. O. P. Kohali, In-charge of the BJP office accepted the memorandum submitted by the demonstrators and assured them that it will be promptly forwarded to Mr. Rajnath Sing for immediate action. Those who participated in the agitation along with their activists included Mr. Vishnu Gupta of Hindu Sena, M/S Prashant Patel and Mukesh Sharma of Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Yuvak Sabha, Mr. Manish Manjul of Samarth Sangathana, Mr. Krushnakumar Arya of Arya Samiti, Ms. Rajrani Mahur of Ran Ragini, Mr. Santosh Shette of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, and Mr. Anand Gupta of Sanatan Sanstha. The demonstrators shouted various slogans such as ‘Shivarj Chouhan come to senses !’, ‘Release Naval Kishore !’, ‘Why Namaz in Hindu temple ?’ ‘Down with BJP government !’.

Similarly, agitations against BJP Government in M.P. were carried out today at Kolhapur, Pune, and in Raigad district of Maharashtra. Agitations will be carried out tomorrow in Sangli, Ratnagiri and other districts of Maharashtra. Organisations such as Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, Sanatan Sanstha participated in these agitations".





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