In what is being read as a clear threat to the administration, the Bhoj Utsav Samiti, whose office-bearers are Hindu hardliners, announced on Monday afternoon 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.
Bhoj Utsav Samiti patron Vijay Singh Rathore said, “If namaz is held inside the Bhojshala, it would mean stopping the Saraswati pooja for a couple of hours to allow time for the namaz to the held. But we want to hold Akhand pooja but as the administration is ‘incompetent’ to ensure this, we will hold the pooja outside the Bhojshala premises at the Akhand Jyoti Mandir.”
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’.
Over 35,000 ‘Dharmarakshaks’ take part in vehicle rally
The announcement came at the end of a show of strength by the Hindu hardliners who held a vehicle rally in which 15,000 vehicles, mostly two-wheelers took part. Over 35,000 ‘Dharmarakshaks’ were part of the rally which was over 3 km in length. When one end of the rally was at the bus stand the other end at the College ground. Some of the slogans being raised bordered on the provocative - “Chahe Jo Majboori Ho, Maa Ki Pooja Poori Ho” (Whatever the compulsion the Goddess Saraswati’s pooja should be complete) or “Khali Karo Raste Bhojshala Ke Vaste” (Make way for people to go to Bhojshala)
Earlier, Dhar MP Savitri Thakur, who led the rally, said that they were trying to hold Akhand Saraswati Pooja inside the Bhojshala on Vasant Panchami and they had communicated this to both chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and also the ASI, under whose jurisdiction the Bhojshala comes. She argued that Bhojshala was the only Saraswati temple in the country and therefore Akhand Saraswati pooja should be held there on Vasant Panchami. She said Muslims should hold their namaz at some other place.
We can’t stop anyone from holding Saraswati pooja outside Bhojshala: Commissioner
Divisional commissioner Sanjay Dubey said, “We cannot stop anyone from holding Saraswati pooja outside the Bhojshala, but we can assure that the premises is open for everyone and if anyone wants to offer pooja inside the Bhojshala we will make all possible arrangements. Also as directed by the ASI and decision taken by the administration, both pooja and namaz would be held on Vasant Panchami.”
State Congress spokesperson K K Mishra said that this decision is nothing but blackmail by the saffron units and will increase the political temperature in the entire Malwa-Nimar area. “These people have nothing to do with devotion to Goddess Saraswati but more interested in vitiating the atmosphere so that issue is alive and their political interests are served,” Mishra said.