Amid bandh call, row over Idgah Maidan’s land ownership heats up

Published on Jul 14, 2022 12:11 AM IST

In June first week, Chamarajpet Nagareekara Okkoota Vedike approached civic body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) demanding permission for access to the ground

A police vehicle arrives to keep vigil at Idgah Maidan during the bandh called by Chamarajpet Citizens' Union, Chamarajpet, in Bengaluru on Tuesday. (ANI)
A police vehicle arrives to keep vigil at Idgah Maidan during the bandh called by Chamarajpet Citizens' Union, Chamarajpet, in Bengaluru on Tuesday. (ANI)
ByArun Dev I Edited by Shilpa Ambardar, Bengaluru

The Idgah Maidan in Bengaluru’s Chamarajpet is in the eye of storm after newly floated outfit Chamarajpet Nagareekara Okkoota Vedike organised a protest and gave a bandh call, demanding celebration of Hindu festivals at the public ground.

Over 40 people were detained for the protests, an officer in the know of the matter said on Wednesday.The day-long bandh call was given on Tuesday. The protesters also insisted that the ground be called Chamarajpet ground and not Idgah Maidan. The demand from the right wing organisations to hold events on the ground has triggered a dispute over who owns that land.

The property dispute

In June first week, Chamarajpet Nagareekara Okkoota Vedike approached civic body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) demanding permission for access to the ground. Responding to the same, BBMP issued a clarification that the Idgah Maidan in Chamarajpet is a BBMP playground and can be used by all the communities. However, Karnataka State Board of Auqaf argued that the land was a gazetted Wakf property. Following this the BBMP said that no permissions will be given for any events until the dispute is resolved.

Meanwhile, the city police requested the civic body to install CCTV cameras around the ground, then believed to be under BBMP ownership, in case any untoward incident. On June 11, civic officials turned up at the Idgah Maidan in Chamarajpet with an earthmover and started digging a trench to lay underground cables for CCTV cameras. This led to a standoff between government officials and local residents, who thought it was an attempt to construct a wall around the property.

The BBMP which initially claimed that property belongs to the civic agency cited 1974 City Survey records, which shows the Idgah Maidan as a playground that belonged to the BBMP khata . The BBMP also argued that the Karnataka State Board of Auqaf should have represented themselves during the 1974 City Survey and recorded their ownership of the land, or come forward with their claim even at a later date and got the khata transferred in their name, which has not been done. Apart from this, the survey also claimed that in 2006, when the corporation built a public toilet on the land, no objections were raised by the Muslim organisations.

After the BBMP projected the 1974 survey as the proof of their claim, there have been allegations that the BBMP records on the land were tampered with. The Karnataka State Waqf Board claimed that the 2.1 acre of contested land is a registered Waqf property and has been so since the 1850s. To back their claim, they presented records of the Central Muslim Association which has reportedly been the caretaker of the land since 1964.

They also pointed towards a case filed by one Rukn-ul-Mulk S Abdul Wajid regarding the land ownership. The original suit filed in the early 1950s was dismissed by a munsiff court in the city; however, on appeal, the civil judge, Bengaluru, reversed the decision. The Corporation of the City of Bangalore went in for an appeal in the High Court of Mysore in 1959; however, the decision remained the same.

The case went to the Supreme Court in 1964. The SC said that it didn’t find merit in the city administration’s claim of possession of the ground. The land has the Idgah as well as a Muslim burial ground. The two-judge bench, observing that the Idgah and the graveyard have existed for a very long time, stated that the high court was justified in dismissing the corporation’s appeal over ownership, said a Muslimcommunity member, who didn’t want to be named, adding that they have the relevant documents to prove the claim.

They claim that despite the court order the land was shown as a playground in the 1974 survey causing confusion.

Current status

In a u-turn, on July 6, chief civic commissioner Tushar Giri Nath said that BBMP has no ownership of the land on which the Idgah Maidan in Chamarajpet stands. The BBMP has served a notice to the Karnataka State Board of Auqaf to provide proof of ownership for the 2-acre 10-gunta land and make a formal claim to the land since survey records show otherwise. Meanwhile, Chamarajpet Nagareekara Okkoota Vedike which came to form on June 3, in a statement has said it will continue with the protests.

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