The two schools of Muslims - Deoband and Barelvi -- are once again at loggerheads over “forceful” conversions of rural folks residing in the interior regions of Chamba district.
The Barelvi adherents have sought intervention of the district administration to restrict Tablighi Jammat of Deobandi School of Muslims from disseminating Islamic education amongst the rural people. The Barelvis move came in the wake of reports of the Tablighi Jammat propagating conversions amongst the local population. The prominent leaders of the Barelivi Muslims headed by Farooq Ahmad Bhatt along with his supporters have complained against the activities of the Tablighi Jamaat.
The Barelvis have sought intervention of the district administration to prevent the Tablilighi Jammat from taking forward its agenda amongst the locals. The district administration has asked police to look into the matter.
The Tablighi Jammat is the offshoot of the radical Deoband movement of intellectuals that was founded in 1866. The Darul Uloom Deoband is reputed to be the second largest madrasa (religious school) in the Sunni Muslim world, next to Al-Ahzar in Cairo. However, the Barelvi Muslims significantly outnumber the Deobandis.
The Barelvis and the Deobandis from time to time have been locking horns over the local issues in Chamba to increase their sphere of influence among the local Muslims.
In April, the two groups clashed at Bashua village in Chamba district, when both schools had staked claims over two-storey building, which was being used by the ‘Anjuman Islamia’, a religious body, working for the welfare of the local Muslim community.
Two groups clashed with each other and about ten persons were injured. The building is said to have been constructed 20 years ago. The Deobandis and the Barelvis have been struggling to gain control over the local chapter of the Anjuman Islamia. However, the Muslims supporting the Deobandi School managed to gain control over the Anjuman Islamia.
The police had then filed the cross first information report (FIR) against both the groups.
In order to prevent the escalating tension, the local administration had sealed the building. Both the groups are being separately backed by the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party.
This is not for the first time that the Deobandis (radicals) and the Barelvis (moderate) have clashed with each other. Both groups had recently fought over a mosque property in Sirmour.