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
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
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
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
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
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
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 www.hindujagruti.org '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