Sikhs, Muslims resolve decades-old land dispute in UP
Lucknow/Meerut: Sikhs will bear the cost of the construction of a mosque that Muslims in Saharanpur have agreed to shift to a new location to end a decade-long dispute over a plot of land near a gurdwara in the Western Uttar Pradesh city. The two communities on Wednesday agreed to the amicable settlement of the dispute, which triggered riots in July 2014 and left three people dead in Saharanpur’s Kutubsher area.
Shiromani Akali Dal’s state president, Gurpreet Singh Bagga, said the Sikhs had purchased the land adjacent to the gurdwara from a Muslim family for the expansion of the place of worship. “When the construction work started for the extension in July 2014, a group of Muslims objected, claiming that a mosque existed on the land. Following the dispute, clashes broke out which soon turned into a riot that claimed the lives of three people and left 26 injured...” He said a case was filed and the gurdwara’s expansion was halted as a result.
Bagga said a dialogue between the two communities started following district magistrate Alok Kumar Pandey’s intervention. “On Wednesday, both communities agreed that the Guru Singh Sabha [Gurdwara] will bear the cost of the land for construction of the mosque at another location. Muslims will withdraw their claim...”
Bagga said they have purchased a 200 square yard plot for the mosque in Muslim-dominated Nadeem Colony. “Sikhs will also help in the construction of the mosque. We believe in the service to humankind. We do not believe in violence. So solving the matter is very important.” He said the cases pending in courts from both sides would be withdrawn.
Muharram Ali Pappu, a Saharanpur resident, said they have set an example. “This shows every matter can be settled through dialogue. Now a decent mosque will come up on the land given by the Sikh brothers. We will also perform Kar Sewa [voluntary work] for the gurdwara. We are proud Indians, who know to love and live in peace.”
Religious scholar Maulana Khalid Rasheed Farangi Mahali welcomed the dispute resolution. “I am always for brotherhood in the society. This shows the composite cultural strength of our society.”
Nirmal Singh, the president of Lucknow’s Alambagh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee, said this is a great gesture by both communities. “In 2014, when shops were burnt, we collected money not only for Sikh brothers but also for Muslims whose shops were damaged. We never discriminate when it comes to helping others.”
In 2010, when the Sikhs went for the clearance for the gurdwara’s expansion, the Muslims objected for the first time.
Pandey said he wanted to solve the matter and asked both sides to talk. “For 15 months, there were extensive parleys. I am happy that on my last day as DM [district magistrate] Saharanpur, the dispute was resolved...”
Saharanpur’s divisional commissioner, Sanjay Kumar, appreciated the efforts of the district administration and police in resolving the matter. “Both communities have set an example of harmony and showed that any issue can be resolved through meaningful dialogue. They sat together on Wednesday and discussed the issue at length in the presence of police and administrative officials. They agreed to end the dispute to keep peace and harmony intact in the area.”