For over a century, followers of two sects of Islam - Shia and Sunni - are fighting with each other over a piece of land in Varanasi City of Uttar Pradesh.
Dating back to 1893, the dispute is over two Sunni graves situated on the land belonging to the Shia community in Mohalla Doshipura, Police Station Jaitpura in Varanasi City.
In 1981, the apex court upheld the Shias’ right over the land. On a petition filed by the Sunni community, the court in 1983 directed shifting of the graves of Sakina Bibi and Lal Mohammed and construction of boundary wall around the 8 plots in question, where Shias used to perform their rites and rituals.
Later, in 1984, the court passed an “experimental order” restraining the Sunnis from causing any hindrance to the performance of Shia rites and rituals. It had also said that Sunnis will not have any right to go to the said 8 plots and the two graves belonging to the Sunnis would be cordoned off by barbed wire. The legal heirs of the two persons resting in the graves were not to have any access to the graves. The grave of Hakim Bardruddin too was to be cordoned off by barbed wire on three sides with only access from road.
But the order has not been implemented so far. In fact, in March 1986, an interim order was passed keeping in abeyance the two orders for 10 years.
Thereafter, the Shia community again moved the court in 1996 seeking implementation of the apex court’s 1993 and 1984 order but their plea is hanging fire for over a decade.
The matter again came up for hearing on Friday but a Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan posted it in August in view of the ongoing assembly elections in the state and the sensitive nature of the dispute.
On behalf of Shia community, senior advocates Ram Jethmalani and Murli Bhandare alleged that the orders were not complied by the administration as the Sunnis were in majority and were influential. They wanted the court to direct the Chief Secretary to comply with the apex court’s order. "We (shias) are a helpless minority," they submitted.
The court asked the two sects to work out some acceptable modalities.
They said that in the last one decade, it has become evident that the experimental orders could not continue, as there has been periodic clash between the two sects.
The counsel representing the Sunni community was ready to argue the matter but the court adjourned it till August.