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Home / India News / At mosque site, a hope for amity

At mosque site, a hope for amity

About 30 kilometres away from what was once a disputed site, five acres of land was handed over to the Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation on Saturday for the construction of a mosque.

india Updated: Aug 05, 2020 07:32 IST
Sunetra Choudhury
Sunetra Choudhury
Hindustan Times, Dhanipur village, Rounahi (Uttar Pradesh)
The mosque site in Dhannipur village near Ayodhya town.
The mosque site in Dhannipur village near Ayodhya town.(HT Photo)

Last weekend, days before the cornerstone- laying ceremony for a Ram temple, the administration of Ayodhya fulfilled another aspect of the November 2019 Supreme Court verdict that cleared the way for the shrine to be built.

About 30 kilometres away from what was once a disputed site, five acres of land was handed over to the Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation on Saturday for the construction of a mosque.

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While the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust is preparing for the formal launch of construction of a grand Ram temple with Wednesday’s ceremony, members of the fledgeling foundation are yet to meet , leave alone draw up a plan for the kind of structure they want to build

“Please don’t compare us to them,’’ said Athar Hussain, a spokesperson for the foundation. “They have had decades to plan for the temple and we were only informed that we would have to plan for an alternative site in November last year. By the time they identified the Dhanipur land for us, Covid hit us and so we haven’t even had a physical meeting just yet. ‘’

The Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation, spearheaded by the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Waqf Board, may not have firmed up a plan for the construction of a mosque in lieu of the of the Babri Masjid that was demolished by Hindu activists in 1992 in an act that the Supreme Court termed as “illegal act,”’ but it does have some ideas .

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“The new mosque may be around the same size as the Babri masjid, but the land allotment is much larger and so we want to make sure that we play a much larger role in the community,”’ said Hussain. “We are planning to have a hospital to take care of the health needs and also, a museum and a research centre in the area.’’

For the 9,000 odd residents of Rounahi town, the attention it is attracting is all very new. District officials say they were bound by the court order to allot land that would be within the Ayodhya city limits and would sit harmoniously with its surroundings. Rounahi fit the bill because of its predominantly Muslim population and its accessibility, just off the Lucknow-Faizabad highway.

“Earlier we were famous for this mazaar which hosts a three-day mela every year in April,’’ said resident Sohrah Khan. “10,000 people would head here for the qawwalis, the horse racing and other festivities.’’

And now, Khan is hoping, Rounahi gets the same kind attention and development that Ayodhya does.

That’s the best that most of its agrarian residents can hope for. The allotted land is now a lush green area, covered by rice paddy and come Wednesday, many of the farmer residents are hoping that the foundation-stone laying ceremony for the Ram temple means an end to communal bitterness.

Being 30 kilometres away, there’s no one who has offered prayers at the original Babri masjid, but there are those who followed the legal dispute and came away disappointed.

“I just hope they make a lasting structure now, taki masjid kayam rahe (so that the mosque lasts),’’ said one woman resident, refusing to be identified.

``We all know the reality of why this moque had to come here,’’ said farmer Naim Khan. “Now that the court has ordered it, so be it’’

That’s a sentiment that many others echoed. Like Abdul Khaliq, a resident of Ayodhya who was also involved in the court case. Khaliq, unlike litigant Iqbal Ansari, refuses to accept the land swap for the mosque.

“They took advantage of the fact that we in the Muslim side said we would accept whatever the Supreme Court said,’’ he said. “That’s fine. But I don’t have to accept this five acres. I don’t care what happens to that land.’’ Another litigant, Haji Meboob, too said that he wasn’t supportive of the decision to accept the land.

These sentiments reflect the deep divide in the community over the resolution of the dispute. “`A new mosque was never asked from the Supreme Court,’’ said lawyer MR Shamshad. “A constitutional issue was finally decided by granting restitution. This is not justice, and hence the community had taken the stand to distance themselves from the land.’’

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