Bhopal: Dhar town in the Malwa region of western Madhya Pradesh state in central India is sitting on a tinderbox. This is due to the Hindutva brigade’s adamant stand not to allow Muslims to offer Friday “Namaaz” in Kamaal Moula Masjid by violating Madhya Pradesh High Court and ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) orders on the occasion of Basant (Vasant) Panchami festival which has been allegedly advanced by a day from February 13 to 12.
It may be noted here that right-wing Hindutva organisations have mischievously advanced the date of Basant Panchami festival by a day to February 12 to clash withFriday prayers of Muslims. The festival actually falls on February 13 which is also listed in the Madhya Pradesh Government calendar with optional holiday for its employees.
However, the saffronite organisations are hell bent to offer puja at Bhojshala monument non-stop from sunrise to sunset with no interruption or recess, whatsoever, for “Namaaz” this year. The RSS through its organisational secretary Arvind Menon has reportedly warned the Madhya Pradesh Government headed by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan not to repeat the mistake of 2013 when the Dhar district administration using force stalled puja and extinguished “Havan Kund” (bonfire) by spraying water over it so as to enable Muslims to perform Namaaz.
It may be pointed out here that ASI in its order dated January 20, 2016 has allowed Muslims to offer “Namaaz” at the structure from 1-3 pm and Hindus to observe customary religious practices from sunrise to 12 noon and 3.30 pm to sunset. Exactly such type of order was issued by the ASI in 2006 and 2013 when a similar controversy cropped up due to Basant Panchami falling on Friday.
While Vishva Hindu Parishad, (VHP), men have claimed that“Namaaz”could not be allowed in Bhojshala on Basant Panchami when a yagna will be in progress. Neither can the yagna be stopped once it is started, they claimed, triggering a deadlock.
The security apparatus is in top gear which has converted the Dhar town into a fortress while barricading the “Bhojshala”, the bone of contention between Muslims and Hindus, from all sides to ward off any untoward incident and keep things under control. The district administration is on tenterhooks keeping their fingers crossed while praying in their hearts of hearts that the day passes off peacefully.
However, reports emanating from Dhar say the situation is at flashpoint and communal violence of the worst kind may flare up when Muslims are allowed to offer “Namaaz” in Kamaal Moula Masjid in the Bhojshala monument.
DISTRICT ADMINISTRATION IS IN A FIX
In the face of flexing muscles of saffron forces led by allegedly RSS affiliate Hindu Jagran Manch, which is spearheading the show of strength, demanding the right for exclusive access to Hindus to pray on ‘Basant Panchami’ on Friday at Bhojshala monument and actively supported by the local BJP MP and MLAs, the district administration is in a fix. In 2013 top police officer in-charge of the Bhojshala affairs at the time when Basant Panchami fell on Fridayhad got cane-charged the marauding Hindutva activists to control the situation.
Meanwhile, All India Muslim Personal Law Board, (AIMPLB), executive member Arif Masood has written a letter to Dhar Collector to implement in letter and spirit the Madhya Pradesh High Court, (MPHC), order to enable Muslims to offer “Namaaz” in Kamal Moula Masjid on February 12, 2016. Arif Masood had moved the Indore Bench of MPHC to intervene and safeguard the Muslims rights to offer “Namaaz” in the mosque.
Amid a controversy over prayers by Hindus and Muslims at the Bhojshala Congress leader Digvijaya Singh has wondered who VHP activists worshiped at the ancient shrine. When there is no idol at the Bhojshala, who do the VHP supporters worship there, the former Madhya Pradesh chief minister wanted to know. While Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee spokesperson K K Mishra has said that VHP decision is nothing but blackmail by the saffron units and will increase the political temperature in the entire Malwa-Nimar area.
The Bhoj Utsav Samiti wants district officials to exempt them from rules of worship at Bhojshala. They want to conduct an ‘Akhand’ (non-stop) puja on Friday to mark Vasant Panchami – also known as Saraswati Puja – but this would mean barring Muslims from entering the Bhojshala to offer prayers.
This year may see worse violence with the Samiti warning the administration that it may have to face the devotees’ wrath. It held a 35,000-strong rally on Monday and is mobilising devotees across the Malwa-Nimar region.
Dharm Jagaran Vibhag, an outfit of the RSS, has decided to hold the puja outside the Bhojshala premises, a move being seen as an attempt to incite local anger against the “incompetent” administration and foment communal tensions.
Meanwhile, it may be mentioned here that 11th century monument “Bhojshala” is a notified Central Waqf protected monument under the supervision of the ASI which maintains it. The monument houses Kamaal Maula Mosque where Muslims are permitted to offer Friday prayers by the ASI. While an unused water tank meant for ablution in the complex wherein Hindus are allowed to celebrate their Basant Panchami festival.