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HomeNews ReportsOpIndia impact: Proposed plan for Qabristan in Hindu locality canceled in Pune's Kondhwa. Read...

OpIndia impact: Proposed plan for Qabristan in Hindu locality canceled in Pune’s Kondhwa. Read details

"We are happy that the decision has been taken back. We are not against the Muslim community. All we want is to keep our health and our children safe. Even if there was a request to build a Hindu burial ground there, we would have opposed similarly," Patil told OpIndia.

In an update to the case from Pune’s Kondhwa region where a government plot was being converted into a Muslim burial ground in the middle of a Hindu residential area, it has come to the fore that the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has canceled the permission for the construction of the proposed Qabristan.

This is days after OpIndia exclusively reported the matter detailing the concerns of local residents after NCP MLA Chetan Tupe and BJP’s Yogesh Tilekar who had earlier requested the PMC to allow the construction of a burial ground for the minority community in a Hindu crowded locality.

BJP’s Yogesh Tilekar, after realising the concerns of the residents, pursued the matter and appealed to the PMC to cancel the proposed construction of the Qabristan in a Hindu-majority residential area.

In an official letter copy to the BJP’s Tilekar who has served as the former MLA of the locality, PMC on 28th December stated that the amenity space on survey no. 44 plot which houses a jogging track at present shall not be converted into a Muslim burial ground. “The permission allotted to construct a burial ground in the given space stands canceled,” the official letter read.

Copy of the official letter obtained by OpIndia

Tilekar in May 2023 had submitted a letter to the PMC advocating for the construction of a ‘Qabristan’ on survey no. 44 land. The letter had stated that making a burial ground on survey no. 44 space would be feasible for the Muslim community given the maximum population that resides in the Kondhwa region of Pune is Muslims. The leader had failed to realize that the said space was in a crowded area and that around 12000 to 15000 Hindu families resided in apartments built around the space. The PMC on 16th May 2023 then approved the proposal based on the letter submitted by Tilekar.

However, Tilekar later backtracked from the suggestion, reportedly after realizing the problems of the Hindu locals and after he was informed about the issues in the area. Several Hindu residents residing in the locality raised objections against the construction of a burial ground for the minority community and said that the said space was allotted by the PMC for the construction of a playground. The Hindu residents also stated that there were several temples in the locality and that a ‘Qabristan’ being established very close to these temples might cause harm to the religious sentiments of the residents.

The residents also complained that the construction of burial grounds in a crowded locality would pose a threat to the health of residents residing near the said government land. There are several residential apartments close to the ground and many of them have windows and balconies opening towards the plot that was going to be converted into a Muslim burial ground.

Tilekar, after learning this, wrote to the PMC in October 2023 and requested the authorities to cancel the permission for the construction of the burial ground. The PMC is said to have taken the final decision on 28th December, canceling the permission for the construction of Qabristan in the Kondhwa region of Pune.

BJP’s Yogesh Tilekar exclusively talked to OpIndia and confirmed that the permission for the Muslim burial ground had been denied by the PMC. “I was anyway going to get it done. I am happy that I could be of help to the Hindu residents here,” he said.

BJP’s Yogesh Tilekar (L) submitting letter to PMC demanding cancellation of permission for Qabristan (Image obtained by OpIndia)

Earlier, he had told OpIndia that he was misinformed about the survey no. 44 spaces and the ongoing project of playground construction on the land. “I didn’t know the land was already allotted by the PMC for a playground construction. Neither did the local Muslim representatives tell me nor the PMC. The letter I sent in May 2023 pressed for a burial ground on survey no. 44 space. However, after I learned that the maximum of population residing around the survey no. 44 space is Hindu, I sent another letter demanding the cancellation of the allotment of the land for a Muslim burial ground,” Tilekar said while talking to OpIndia.

The letter of cancellation that Tilekar sent to the PMC on 23rd October 2023 clearly states that the survey no. 44 amenity space is located in a crowded area and most of the population that resides in the societies around the space is Hindu. “I first thought that the area housed a large Muslim population but I was misinformed. Most of the population residing in the locality is Hindu,” the letter reads.

Letter exclusively obtained by OpIndia

Rs 49 lakhs already spent for construction of playground, space still vacant

The entire incident was exposed after an RTI activist Dr Paritosh Zaware Patil residing in the Raviraj Colorado Co-op Housing Society (next to survey no 44 amenity space) filed an RTI demanding details of the location. It came to the fore that the PMC had already allotted the land for the construction of a playground and that the government had already spent Rs 43 lakhs for construction. Surprisingly, the land still is vacant and so had been trapped under the controversy over the Muslim burial ground construction.

The land was allotted for the construction of the playground in the year 2017 and in 2019 grant of Rs 43 lakhs for the purpose was also obtained. The project of construction of the playground was given to some Salim Construction in the year 2019 and Rs 49 lakhs had been spent for the purpose. “The land is still vacant and no playground has been constructed here. There’s just a jogging track inside. They want to make a Muslim burial ground here. This is a crowded locality and we don’t want our children to see things that are inappropriate for them,” Dr Patil had confirmed.

However, Patil talked to OpIndia on 2nd January and confirmed that the PMC had taken back its decision to allot the land for the Muslim burial ground. “We are happy that the decision has been taken back. We are not against the Muslim community. All we want is to keep our health and our children safe. Even if there was a request to build a Hindu burial ground there, we would have opposed similarly,” he reiterated.

Patiil and the other Hindu residents called OpIndia specifically and thanked us for highlighting the voice of residents in the issue. The community also hailed Tilekar listening to the residents, and being considerate of their concerns.

The detailed report filed on 14th December 2023 explaining the entire case can be read here.

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Siddhi Somani
Siddhi Somani
Siddhi Somani is known for her satirical and factual hand in Economic, Social and Political writing. Having completed her post graduation in Journalism, she is pursuing her Masters in Politics. The author meanwhile is also exploring her hand in analytics and statistics. (Twitter- @sidis28)

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