A quasi-political tussle put the state capital’s rich heritage to shame on Friday when Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawad put locks on the gates of the city’s most prominent historical monument – the Asafi Imambara popularly known as ‘Bara Imambara’.
That is not all. The Chota Imambara gates, which were locked on Thursday, remained closed on Friday too. He took the step as part of his campaign against the Shia Central Waqf Board (SCWB)’s newly elected chairman.
The main gates of the Bara Imambara were closed after the Friday prayers. Such action was not taken for the first time, officials recalled, but did not give details. The gates of the monument are likely to remain locked on Saturday as well. A dharna (sit-in) has also been staged at the Bara Imambara site.
Besides, some women have been on a hunger strike at the Chota Imambara for the last few days.
The cleric also announced a jail bharo stir from June 14 as part of his battle for one-upmanship with SCWB chairman Syed Wasim Rizvi. The campaign has been going on for the last one week.
Immediately after Rizvi’s election, Jawad launched a stir against him.
Mounting a counter-attack, Rizvi released a seven-point chargesheet against Jawad. He accused the cleric of large-scale bungling in management of monuments like the Imambara Ghuframab, Waqf Sajjadia, Waqf Misri Baghia and Waqf Taqayya Begum.
Jawad is mutawalli (caretaker) of Guframab and other Auqaf. Rizvi said the “entire agitation to dislodge me is aimed at hiding massive irregularities in these waqf properties”. However, Jawad, who has long been demanding a probe into the SCWB’s functioning, rebutted the charges.
The agitation, which was largely aimed at the SCWB, has now turned against the Samajwadi Party and the state government.
Dubbing the state government “anti-Muslim and anti-Hindu”, Jawad said, “Both communities would teach the SP a lesson in the 2017” assembly elections. Jawad also said, “This government has only been working for Kannauj, Etawah and Mainpuri.” He announced the Shia groups would hold a demonstration every day outside the Bara Imambara.
The jail bharo stir to be launched in Lucknow on June 14 would be extended to other areas, he added. For his part, Rizvi assailed the cleric and said that Jawad’s agitation was politically motivated.
The SCWB chief alleged that the opposition parties were extending support to Jawad as they were shaken by the programmes and policies of the Akhilesh Yadav government.