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Uttar Pradesh: Tension in Banda district after VHP activists allege illegal construction inside a mosque, police launch probe

VHP alleges that although the administration had approved the Hazrat Bilal Mosque mosque's renovation, the mosque's authorities were getting additional construction done without permission

On Wednesday, February 15, several members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) protested against the alleged illegal construction taking place inside the Hazrat Bilal Mosque near the Balkhandi Naka area in the Banda district of Uttar Pradesh.

Several videos of the alleged vandalization of the under-construction mosque have surfaced on social media. The VHP activists halted the construction work at the mosque and dispersed construction materials claiming that although permission was taken from the administration for the construction work, additional construction was being carried out illegally. Several VHP activists staged a Dharna and chanted slogans against the alleged illegal construction. Several Bajrang Dal activists also joined the protest.

Meanwhile, the Muslim side reached the collectorate and accused VHP of vandalizing the mosque. They first demonstrated at Ashok Lat under the direction of AS Nomani, National President of the Bundelkhand Insaf Sena, before heading to the Collectorate and submitting the memorandum to the Deputy Collector. They claimed that VHP and Bajrang Dal activists had assaulted the construction workers.

VHP alleges illegal construction

Chandra Mohan Bedi, district president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, stated that although the administration had approved the mosque’s renovation on December 12 last year, the mosque’s authorities were getting additional construction done there. “We just want to let the administration know that its order is being defied,” Bedi said.

VHP leader Chandra Mohan Bedi in a letter also alleged that a four-storey mosque is being constructed without authorisation. He has raised concerns about foreign funding in the mosque. In his letter, Bedi also demanded the demolition of the mosque.

Chandra Mohan Bedi referred to the mosque in his letter as an instance of land jihad and asked Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, to intervene and launch an investigation. Bedi claimed that a conspiracy is being hatched to intimidate Hindus by erecting a mosque in a Hindu-majority area.

On the other hand, Maulvi Zahiruddin of the mosque claims that only reconstruction work was carried out after obtaining permission from the administration because the mosque, which is roughly 50–60 years old, had become entirely dilapidated. Some people arrived and immediately started creating a disturbance and vandalizing, they also stalled the construction work, he alleged.

Police says the investigation underway 

Speaking on the matter, Abhinandan, Superintendent of Police, Banda, said renovation work was underway in a mosque in the Balakhandi Naka neighbourhood of the Kotwali Nagar area, where some residents had voiced their displeasure. They claimed that the name of the renovation work was being done on it, and as a result, the police and administrative team arrived and assessed the situation. In this case, necessary legal action is being taken, and it is also being looked into whether the renovation work was done in accordance with the rules or not.

SP Abhinandan on the question of the alleged vandalism said that the police are examining the videos of the incident, and those responsible for the vandalism were also being identified. He added that after investigating into the claims made by both parties, further legal action will be taken against them.

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