Authorities in Uttar Pradesh’s Barabanki district bulldozed a mosque in the Ram Sanehi Ghat area on Monday, 17 May, despite an order by the Allahabad High Court dated 24 April, which stated that in view of the pandemic, “any orders of eviction, dispossession or demolition shall remain in abeyance until 31 May.”
Following the demolition, the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board, on Tuesday, condemned the “high-handed” act, taken under an anti-encroachment drive and said that they will approach the high court, “demanding restoration of mosque, high level judicial inquiry and action against guilty officers.”
As per a report done by The Guardian, on Monday, police personnel moved into the area, cleared the mosque premises and subsequently bulldozed the mosque. The debris was then thrown into a river. Security personnel also stopped anyone from coming within a mile of the demolition site.
What Did the Sunni Waqf Board Say?
Zufar Farooqui, chairman of the Sunni Waqf board was quoted by The Times of India as saying, “I strongly condemn the patently illegal and high-handed action of the Tehsil and district administration particularly that of the sub-divisional magistrate for demolition of 100-year-old mosque situated near the Tehsil compound in the name of alleged removal of encroachment.”
Maulana Abdul Mustafa, who is on the mosque committee, was quoted by The Guardian as saying, “All Muslims were scared, so no one went near the mosque or dared to protest when the mosque was being demolished.”
He added that even on Tuesday, several dozen people were leaving their homes and hiding in other areas out of fear of the police.
A Timeline of Events:
District administration had issued a show cause notice to the mosque committee on 15 March, asking them to provide evidence of ownership of the land and cited a court directive where religious constructions could be demolished if they obstructed traffic.
The mosque committee claims that they sent a detailed response but the local administration did not take it on official record.
Citing imminent demolition, the mosque committee approached the Allahabad High Court on 18 March. The court assured the committee that the show cause notice by the administration was only referring to illegal residential rooms within the complex.
On 19 March, as per The Guardian report, locals were prevented from entering the mosque, causing tension and protests in the area, which led to the arrests of over 35 Muslim locals.
What Did the Authorities Say?
The police said that once the notice was issued, on 15 March, the residents of the complex fled. Following which, the tehsil administration took control of the premises on 18 March due to security reasons, the police said in a video statement released on Twitter.
The statement added that as per the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court, on 2 April, the questionable complex was found to be illegal. On the basis of which, a case was registered in the court of SDM Ram Sanehi Ghat. The police added that the judicial orders of the court were consequently implemented on 17 May.
Barabanki district magistrate Adarsh Singh was quoted by The Guardian as saying, “I do not know any mosque. I know there was an illegal structure. The high court declared it illegal. That’s why the regional senior district magistrate took action. I will not say anything else.”
(With inputs from The Guardian, The Times of India.)
. Read more on India by The Quint.COVID ‘War’: Lessons from the Battlefield – For India to ‘Win’Despite Allahabad HC Order, Century-Old Mosque Demolished in UP . Read more on India by The Quint.