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Jalgaon Pandav Wada Case: SC orders ‘Mosque’ authorities to hand over keys to govt, allows entry of Hindus to temples without any hindrance

On 16th July 2023, the administration sealed the century-old disputed mosque temporarily and issued an order under section 144 of CrPC, immediately banning prayers on the premises

The Supreme Court on 19th April ruled that the keys to a ‘Mosque’ in Erandol Taluka, Jalgaon, will stay with the municipal council. While ordering this, the bench of Justices Surya Kant and K.V Vishwanathan dismissed the Jumma Masjid Trust Committee’s appeal against the Bombay High Court’s ruling asking it to deliver the keys to the Jalgaon mosque to the council by 13th April.

At the same time, the Bench made it evident that the local council will appoint an officer to open the gate shortly before the beginning of namaz in the morning and keep it open until the namaz is finished. Furthermore, the Court decided that the masjid compound shall be controlled by the Wakf board or the petitioner till further orders.

“The key of the main entrance gate of the entire compound shall remain with the municipal council. There shall be status quo with regard to the masjid compound and it shall be under the control of the wakf board or the petitioner society till further orders,” the Court said.

“The egress and ingress…temples or monuments shall be free from all kinds of hindrances and the people of different religions shall be allowed to visit without any disturbance. The key of the (back side) gate will also remain with the council and it will be the duty of the council to depute an official to open that gate well before the commencement of namaz in the morning and till all the namaz is performed during the day. However, no encroachment of any kind shall be made by the parties,” it added.

This is an interim arrangement while the District Collector winds up the procedures.

Background of the case covered extensively by OpIndia

OpIndia had extensively reported about the case in the month of July last year. On 16th July 2023, the administration sealed the century-old disputed mosque temporarily and issued an order under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, immediately banning prayers on the premises which is protected under the State Archaeology Department. The collector had also directed police deployment in the area and had asked the local administration to take charge of the mosque, which has been officially declared as ‘disputed’.

After this, the Jumma Masjid Trust Committee which looks after the disputed mosque structure had moved to the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court against the collector’s order banning entry into the premises for offering prayers. The petition, filed by the Jumma Masjid Trust Committee’s president Altaf Khan claimed that the collector had passed the ‘arbitrary and illegal’ order on July 11th which directed the trust to hand over the keys of the disputed ‘mosque’ to the Erandol municipal council’s chief officer.

However, the Court then issued a stay order against the collector’s directives. 

Pandavwada Sangharsh Samiti demands the restoration of the property

The development was confirmed to OpIndia by complainant Prasad Madhusudan Dandawate of the Pandavwada Sangharsh Samiti. “There are around 4-5 Muslims who offer Namaz there daily. Now they have been allowed but also the members of the Hindu community can go in the premises of the Pandava wada which has been illegally encroached by the Masjid Trust,” Dandawate confirmed.

Earlier, it was reported how the Pandava Wada in the Erandol region of Maharashtra’s Jalgaon district was converted into a Mosque. The saga began when the Dandawate complained to the district administration that the mosque had been illegally constructed over a Hindu place of worship and should be taken over by the authorities. The complainant further asserted that the Hindu character and structure of the vicinity had been destroyed by the Jumma Masjid Trust who illegally has encroached on the area to call it a Mosque.

Trust illegally installed electricity, concrete restructuring

As per the complaint by the Pandavwada Sangharsh Samiti, the Trust had illegally occupied the premises and has made several changes to the 800-1000-year-old Pandava Wada which today stands protected under the State Archeology Department. The trust installed electricity, fans, cement doors, and water connections to the Pandava Wada. “They have also illegally constructed the wuzukhana-type area for people of the Muslim community to wash their hands before Namaz. Who gave this permission to them,” Dandawate pondered.

Electricity, cement construction illegally added to the Pandava Wada (Images obtained by OpIndia)

The Samiti in the complaint to the administration and the court demanded that all the illegal construction and additions made to the Pandava Wada be removed and the property be taken over by the authority. The Samiti also demanded a scientific evaluation to determine the age of the property.

What is Pandav Wada?

The Pandav wada sites in the Erandol region of Jalgaon district, are claimed to be under Islamic encroachments. It is believed that the Pandavas spent their years in exile in the Erandol region and that the Hindu and Jain temple-like structures built here are 800-1000 years old. Later due to the severe indifference among Hindus, Muslims slowly started encroaching on Pandav Wada more than 125 years ago, and they eventually built a mosque there while claiming it to be Wakf property.

Hindu groups like the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) and Pandavwada Sangharsh Samiti have been battling to reclaim Pandavwada from the Wakf Board’s intrusions and restore the areas. The contested mosque has records of existence of at least 100 years, whereas the principal buildings in Pandava wada (built in the style of Jain and Hindu temples) are reportedly 800-1000 years old.

Hindu organizations maintain that the mosque was constructed by destroying a Hindu temple that is mentioned in Hindu scriptures. Further, the associated Wakf committee had been working to build the disputed mosque in order to ruin the Pandavwada’s Hindu culture as described in local folklore and scriptures.

Taking this into consideration, the Supreme Court today ruled that the keys to the illegal Mosque in Erandol Taluka, Jalgaon, would stay with the municipal council.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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