A satyagrah (non-violent resistance) was organised by Hindu hardliners on Tuesday outside the Bhojshala temple in protest of administration’s decision to allow Muslims to offer namaz at Bhojshala on Vasant Panchami.
Over a thousand supporters participated in the satyagrah including Member of Parliament Savitri Thakur.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders also addressed the satryagrah and said the administration was misguiding the community.
“We have organised the satyagrah outside the temple but we have the right to pray inside the temple and the temple is ours. Some people from the administration are spreading rumors that if the Hindus will not offer prayers on Vasant Panchami and will pray outside Bhojshala, they will never be able to pray inside the temple in future which is not correct,” said Gopal Sharma, convener of Dharm Jagaran Vibhag, an outfit of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
The Bhoj Utsav Samiti, whose office-bearers are Hindu hardliners, announced on Monday that they are going to hold Akhand (non-stop) Saraswati pooja outside the disputed Bhojshala premises on Vasant Panchami if Muslims are allowed to offer namaz in Bhojshala on that day.
Political observers feel that the Bhoj Utsav Samiti’s stand is a clear attempt to put pressure on the government to scrap the namaz or face the tag of being ‘anti Hindu’.
Dhar MP Savitri Thakur also participated in the satygrah and inspected the preparations made by the administration. She assured the people that she will talk to senior officials and a stable solution will be found over the Bhojshala issue.
Sangathan Mantri Sohan Singh Solanki said people of Hindu community had been fighting for Bhojshala for the last 711 years.
Bhojshala is a disputed 11th century structure that is claimed by both Muslims and Hindus.
Muslims say it is a mosque while Hindus say it is a temple of Goddess Saraswati.
According to directives of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which maintains this structure, Hindus and Muslims can offer prayers at the shrine every Tuesday and Friday, respectively.
The structure becomes a flashpoint when Vasant Panchami, also referred to as Saraswati Puja, falls on a Friday as it happened in 2003, 2006, 2013.
This year again, it’s falling on a Friday (February 12).
According to ASI order, Hindus can pray from sunrise to 12.30 pm and then from 3.30 pm till sunset and Muslims from 1 pm to 3 pm on that day. However, Hindu organisations have rejected the arrangement, warning that there will be either puja or namaz at the shrine on February 12 and not both.
Communal passions ran high as heavy police force had to be deployed on Vasant Panchami on previous such occasions to remove Hindu devotees from the shrine premises to ensure that Muslims are able to offer namaz.