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Barabanki Mosque Demolition: Vulnerability of Muslims’ Religious Places in India

11:13 25 May 2021 Author :  

Since Narendra Modi has become Prime Minister in India, Muslim lives, their properties and religious places have become far more vulnerable to destruction than earlier they were. Muslims can be attacked by a mob at any point of time in any part of the country. They can be killed in the police custody on any justification or without justification. Their properties can be damaged and their business can be destroyed.

Examples of all these atrocities can be cited from the recent incidents. A mob killed Asif Khan in Haryana’s Mewat in this week. A vegetable seller Faisal was killed in the police custody in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao on 21 May. In Jabalpur, a Hindutva mob attacked a Muslim shopkeeper alleging him of having relationship with a Hindu girl. Apart from these loss of Muslim lives and attacks against them, there is another incident which has not caused much outrage is the demolition of Ghareeb Nawaz Mosque in Ramsnehi Ghat of Barabanki in Uttar Pradesh.

The story about demolition of Ghareeb Nawaz Mosque in Ramsnehi Ghat shows that how vulnerable is mosque in India. The mosque, which had been standing there for around a century, has suddenly become a throne in the eyes of the administration. On 17 March this year, the Tehsildar of Ramsnehi Ghat suddenly sent a notice to the committee members of the mosque that the existence of the mosque at the place is violation of Allahbad High Court order 2016 which prohibits the religious activities at the public places. In its reply, the mosque committee head made it clear that the Allahabad High Court order does apply to the mosque as it is situated far from the road, street and any public places. It also does not create any public inconvenience in the public movement.

However, the local administration did not take into account the facts submitted by the mosque authority and prevented Muslims from offering namaz at the mosque. A few days later when the administration came to bulldoze the wall of the religious structure, Muslims protested against administration’s action. Then, they launched brutal crackdown against the protesters beating them up and vandalizing their houses. The mosque committee members went to Allahabad High Court against the notice of the administration but the Court rejected their apprehension that the administration would pull down the structure and asked them to file the reply of the notice. Amid this, on 17 May, the administration came with heavy security forces and pulled down the mosque leveling the ground.

This case of Ghareeb Nawaz Mosque demolition shows that how easy for the government to pull down a mosque by just citing any baseless ground. In the demolition of Babri mosque, the Sangh group made up a similar baseless allegations against the historic mosque, and pulled it down right under the nose of the government. Now, the scenario has changed. Earlier, it’s mob which used to pull down mosque as happened in the Babri case. Now, it’s administration itself which demolish the mosque. The work of demolishing mosque has now become official task of the government. In Babri case, the judiciary was hurdle for decades but in Barabanki case, the judiciary simply rejected apprehension of the mosque committee members that the religious place can be demolished. In Babri case, those who played a role in the demolition were booked even though later they were acquitted by the CBI court. But in Barabanki mosque demolition case, the police booked the mosque committee members themselves for registering the religious place with the Waqf board. So far, there is no case against those who demolished the Ghareeb Nawaz mosque. In Babri case, there was public outrage against the culprits. But in the Barabanki case, people are not even outraging over it.

This journey of mosque demolition from Babri to Barabanki shows that the demolition of the mosque has been accepted as a norm in India. On the government level, it’s been made official.

In India every now and then, we hear a report of targeting mosque by the Hindutva goons on any excuse. In Delhi’s anti-Muslim riots alone, dozens of Muslim religious places including mosques were targeted, vandalized and burnt by the rioting mob under the watch of police. Hence, the vulnerability of the mosque is very high in India these days. There is a need to pay attention towards this.

Even though the mosques are under constant targets, it did not prevent Muslims from using the mosques to help the distressed people at difficult times. Of late, when the country is undergoing health crisis due to massive surge of covid cases, it fell acute shortage of health facilities like beds and oxygen. Responding to the health crisis, mosques in different parts of then country have been turned into covid care centers providing covid treatment to the patients. In Gujarat, Delhi, Mahrashtra and other states, several mosques have become relief center for the covid patients.

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