Amidst threats from right-wing groups, Madhya Pradesh’s Bhojshala remains tense


Situation in Madhya Pradesh’s Dhar continues to be tense as Hindu organisations refusing to budge from their demand to now allow Muslims to pray on Friday because Basant Panchami festival.

Right-wing Hindu organisations have refused to comply with the order passed by the Archaeological Survey of India specifying times of prayers by both communities in the disputed site in Dhar.

According to the ASI order passed last month, Hindus will perform puja at Bhojshala in Dhar from sunrise to 12 noon and from 3.30 PM to sunset, while Muslims will offer namaz between 1 PM and 3 PM.

However, the right-wing groups argue that since this Friday also happens to be the day of Basant Panchamai, Muslims should give up their rights to pray to respect the ‘sentiments of majority community.’

“We stick to our stance that only Hindus should be
allowed to worship at Bhojshala from dawn-to-dusk,” Bhoj Utsav Samiti’s convener VS Rathore was quoted by News18.

Muslims’ Shahar (city) Qazi Waquar Sadique said that his community should be allowed to offer Friday namaz at Bhojshala.

Hindus consider Bhojshala as the temple of Goddess Wagdevi (Saraswati), whereas Muslims treat it as Kamal Moula mosque.

Meanwhile, controversial site has metamorphosed into a fortress with police commandos in black uniform guarding the structure.

Superintendent of Police Rajesh Hingkar said that nearly 6,000 security personnel, including 10 companies of Rapid Action Force and Central Reserve Police Force have been deployed at Bhojshala to ensure that Hindus and Muslim perform prayers at different times as directed by ASI.
He said that about 1,000 policemen are already manning the site adding that 140 CCTV cameras will be installed and two drone cameras will be put in place.

Namaaz began in 1935

It was in 1935 when the then administration had allowed Muslims to perform Friday prayers. The then diwaan of Dhar Estate administration had passed an order to this effect.

In its order, the administration had described the site as Kamal Maula Mosque allowing both Muslims to offer Friday prayers and Hindu to organise puja.

According to local historians, Mahmoud Khilji of Khilji dynasty had constructed the tomb of Maulana Kamaluddin in 1456. People from both faiths performed their religious rituals side by side without any controversy.

Ayodhya’s ripple effect

However, Ayodhya movement by the right-wing Hindu groups contributed a lot in whipping up communal tension here with both communities starting to stake claim on this historical site.

Last time, the Basant Panchami fell on Friday was in 2013, when the rising tension between the communities led to huge communal flare-ups. It resulted in clashes, rioting and stone pelting.