Less than a week after demolition of Ghareeb Nawaz Mosque in Barabanki, the local administration in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh pulled down another religious place of Muslims on Sunday (May 22) defying the High Court order of banning all demolition and eviction till 30 May.
The local administration said that the mosque situated at Budhana road in Khatauli was built illegally without taking permission from the administration. However, the explanation of the administration for razing the mosque did not satisfy Muslim leaders who raised the issue of High Court order.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Acting General Secretary of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) Khalid Saifullah Rahmani expressed his anger and anguish over the demolition of the mosque in Khatauli.
“As of now, the wound inflicted by the demolition of Ghareeb Nawaz mosque in Barabanki has not healed, Masjid Jameel of Khatauli in Muzaffarnagar has been martyred. The local police martyred the mosque by declaring it as government land without any investigation,” said Rahmani.
He said that the land of the mosque is registered with the Waqf Board and the caretaker has a document of it. “All India Muslim Personal Law Board is reviewing the situation with regard to take legal action in this regard,” he said.
Rahmani demanded from the Uttar Pradesh government that the ownership of the land should be handed over to the caretaker of the mosque and those police officers who are involved in this illegal activity be suspended and punished. He also urged Muslims to prepare documents of the mosque and keep it safe so that the mosque can be protected from ‘communal, prejudiced and crooked police officers’.
According to media reports, the local police on Sunday afternoon went to the mosque to demolish the religious structure. The police faced protests from the locals. Later, when SDM Indrakant Diwedi reached the site and the police dealt with the protesters strictly, the locals gave in.
Reacting to the issue, All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) supremo and MP Asaduddin Owaisi said that the mosque was demolished illegally by SDM Indrakant Dwivedi without asking for the waqf documents of the land.
“The mosque was built on waqf land and namaz was regularly offered there for the past 5 months including during lockdown. SDM did not even ask for the waqf documents before illegally demolishing the masjid. After the demolition of a masjid in Barabanki, this the second such demolition. In Barabanki, the masjid was on government land. Although the masjid functionaries had all the waqf documents,” said Owaisi pointing out that both mosques of Uttar Pradesh were razed, defying the High Court order.
Sharing the video clip of mosque demolition in Khatauli along with documents of waqf related to the mosque, Owaisi blamed Uttar Pradesh chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for the demolition of the mosques saying that he was doing all this to hide his failure to deal with pandemic.
“It’s obvious that UP CM is unable to handle the responsibilities of his office. There are no doctors in hospitals, youth are sitting unemployed at home, and the dead are not even getting funerals with dignity. Apart from oppressing Muslims, the CM does not know much else,” he said.
Responding to Tweets of Owaisi, Muzaffarnagar police claimed that the mosque was an illegal structure which was razed after explaining to local people. “The report of demolishing illegal structures is being presented in wrong sense on social media,” said the police.
According to the police, the land is registered with the Waqf Board as sunni graveyard where illegal structures was built by Zubair, Shakeel and Osama etc.
Sunni Waqf Board chairman Zufar Farooqui also said that the land is registered with the Waqf Board as graveyard and permission to build the mosque there was not taken.
However, Nabeel Qureshi, the man whose family donated the land to the Waqf Board 40 year ago, told reporters that the structure which was developed at the land was an under-construction mosque. It was a cemetery and makeshift which would have been developed fully as a mosque after having taken permission. They could not take permission due to lockdowns amid pandemic.
Meanwhile, a UP based rights group Rihai Munch blamed the state government for demolishing the mosques in Khatuli as well as Barabanki calling government’s actions “communal.”
President of Rihai Mucnh Mohammed Shoaib said that the government was demolishing the mosque to polarize the society so that it can hide its failures in fighting coronavirus pandemic. For the same purpose, Muslims are being targeted and attacked communally. “Despite the High Court stayed all demolitions till 30 May, the administration pulled down the mosques in Barabanki as well as in Muzaffarnagar’s Khatauli. It’s an open violation of court order,” he said.