A controversy has erupted after the administration in Uttar Pradesh’s Barabanki district pulled down a 100-year-old illegally constructed ‘mosque’ in the area. Ever since the demolition process was carried out, Muslim organisations like the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and UP Sunni Central Waqf Board and Samajwadi Party, the primary opposition party in Uttar Pradesh, started crying foul.
While they are slamming the local authorities for demolishing the 100-year-old Garib Nawaz ‘mosque’, the authorities maintained that the structure they demolished on court orders was indeed an illegal residential structure that encroached on the government land.
Officials confirmed that an illegal residential structure situated inside the ‘tehsil’ premises in Ram Sanehi Ghat area in the district, which the outraging Muslim organisations and opposition is claiming to be a ‘mosque’, was demolished on the orders of a sub-divisional magistrate’s (SDM) court in Ram Sanehi Ghat.
They said that a notice was served on the people, who had been residing there, asking them to produce documents in support of their claim but they fled after serving of the notice.
District Magistrate Adarsh Singh also confirmed: “A notice was served on people concerned on March 15, giving them an opportunity to put forth their views over the ownership but those residing there fled after receiving the notice”.
Singh furthered that the tehsil administration got the possession of the structure on March 18.
He said the the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court had disposed of a petition filed in this connection on April 2, which proved that the construction was illegal.
A case was filed in the court of the Sub Divisional Magistrate, Ram Sanehi Ghat, and its orders were complied with on May 17. Joint magistrate Divyanshu Patel also termed the construction as illegal and the building was brought down on court orders, he said.
The Barabanki police also responded to a Tweet by the Samajwadi Party, wherein the party shared its Facebook post which condemned the UP government’s decision to ‘demolish a hundred-year-old mosque’.
Muslim organisations and Samajwadi Party rage over the demolition of Barabanki illegal residential structure
After the incident, the Samajwadi Party, in a Facebook post, slammed the BJP government in the state for “doing politics by spoiling the country’s Ganga Jamuni culture”.
The party spokesperson wrote that the “former Chief Minister Shri Akhilesh Yadav said that BJP wants to spread religious hysteria through hate politics. Demolishing a hundred-year-old mosque is a misuse of power”, wrote Rajendra Chaudhary adding that “Shri Akhilesh Yadav has demanded the investigation of the Barabanki incident from the Hon’ble High Court sitting judge and rebuild the mosque”.
The District President of Samajwadi Party Maulana Ayaz Ahmad also called it an embarrassing incident and said that the authorities took advantage of the Corona curfew to bring down the century-old structure registered in the name of the Waqf Board.
Meanwhile, the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) working general secretary Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rehmani said in a statement: “The century-old Garib Nawaz mosque in Ram Sanehi Ghat tehsil was demolished by the administration without any legal justification on Monday night in the presence of police”.
Accusing the authorities of pulling down the ‘mosque’ without prior notice, Rehmani furthered: “There was no dispute relating to the mosque. It is also listed with the Sunni Waqf Board. The SDM of Ram Sanehi Ghat had asked for papers of the mosque from the mosque committee in March against which the mosque management committee had approached the Allahabad High Court.”
Saying so, the All-India Muslim Law Board (AIMPLB) working general secretary demanded a judicial inquiry into the case by a sitting High Court judge and also asked for the suspension of officials responsible for the action.
Muslim organisations threaten legal action, ask for reconstruction of ‘mosque’
The AIMPLB also demanded that the process of removing the debris from the spot should be halted. The general secretary said that assurance should be given to them that no other structure will be allowed to come up on the land.
“It is the duty of the government to construct the mosque at the place and hand it over to the Muslims,” he said.
Adding to the controversy, the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board also threatened legal action. Condemning the incident and terming it as a blatant misuse of power, the Waqf Board chairman Zufar Farooqui said: “The mosque near the tehsil premises has been demolished by the Ram Sanehi Ghat SDM in the name of removing encroachment. I strongly condemn this illegal and arbitrary action”.