High Court orders prevent Muslim rowdies from legitimising illegal structure
Cong conspiracy to create communal strife in Delhi to harvest votes
SOME artifacts and a thick wall discovered during excavations done by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) for its Phase three construction in Subash Park in North Delhi was exploited by Delhi MLA Shoaib Iqbal to spread rumours about the discovery of a Mughal era mosque. He didn’t care to wait for the confirmation of his unsubstantiated claim by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) and went ahead illegally digging the place and demanding the land belonging to the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) for constructing a new mosque. This created a crisis in the city as Hindus and even sections of Muslims were horrified by the politician’s tantrums and threats. He and several of his followers started digging the place that too is against the law and offering prayers at the site. Obviously encouraged by the Congress Government’s failure (Or was it a well thought out and executed conspiracy?) to check the mischief, the legislator belonging to Lok Janshakti Party – an outfit friendly to the ruling party – started constructing a mosque at the site on Government land without seeking any permission from the authorities concerned. Even while the NDMC rejected his request for permission to hold Friday namaz at the site, he thundered that come what may, one lakh Muslims from all over the country would converge on the site to offer prayers on Friday July 20. Eventually around 5,000 persons from parts of Delhi, UP and Haryana did enter the disputed site and offered prayers while the police deployed in strength looked the other way. Why did the police not prevent the man who proudly claimed to have organised the illegal construction and had given the call for offering prayers thus escalating panic and tension in the old Delhi?
It is intriguing that the Delhi police took no action nor registered any case against those who illegally constructed a mosque on the Government land and offered prayers at the site without any permission from the NDMC that owns the land but did take strict action against saints, VHP activists and Hindu devotees who didn’t violate any law and were moving peacefully towards the park. It appears that the entire episode was stage managed by the Congress Governments at the Centre and State with a view to create communal tension that they hope would enable the ruling party to garner Muslim votes in the Assembly elections in Delhi next year. This perception is also confirmed by the Chief Minister’s observations during an interview to an English-language newspaper during which she said that the activities of the LJP legislator were not “good” and may create tension but lamented, as if she is a majboor CM, that Iqbal was not listening to anyone though Iqbal’s proximity to the Chief Minister is no secret. Is it a fact that she didn’t ask the police to prevent the mischief because of ulterior motives? Yet another manifestation of the involvement of the Congress party in the high drama was that the day NDMC had on its agenda a resolution demanding the demolition of the illegal structure at the municipal site, Congress members of the Corporation disrupted proceedings over a petty issue pertaining to a stall of a newspaper allegedly set up in the civic centre which led to the adjournment of the meeting before the said resolution could be taken up.
Even as the illegal construction at Subash Park was in progress on Friday morning, the full bench of Delhi High Court presided over by Acting Chief Justice S K Sikri had on a petition filed by VHP passed orders that no one should be allowed to enter the site, it should be got vacated and stayed further construction on the site. It asked the NDMC to take possession of the land and hand it over to the ASI for mandatory excavations. The Police Commissioner was ordered to deploy police in strength to prevent violation of court orders. The judicial orders were violated with impunity even as the police force deployed there remained a mute spectator. These developments so enraged the VHP Patron Ashok Singhal that he publicly blamed the Chief Minister for hurting Hindu sentiments and threatened to launch a mass agitation if the encroachment on the Pandav-era site were not removed. However, the next day witnessed a change in the scenario. The High Court taking cognizance of the VHP’s petition seeking contempt of court proceedings against parties and persons concerned, took a stern note of the developments. It asked the Delhi Administration to ensure full compliance of the court orders and asked the police to get the land vacated and stop further construction. The court issued specific instructions to the NDMC to take charge of the land, erect barriers and seal the area. These orders were duly implemented within hours. The mob in occupation of the land resisted followed by violent clashed with the police. According to the police, a mob of Muslims largely comprising “outsiders” attacked police and innocent citizens in different parts of old Delhi. They put to fire vehicles. The mob fury continued for two more days. Some trouble makers were arrested on charges of rioting. The firebrand legislator who allegedly incited the trouble was not to be seen; obviously presuming that he had done his job of creating communal tension and divide that would persuade a majority of Muslims of his assembly constituency voting for him in the next election.
The case again came up for hearing on July 25, when the court pulled up the Delhi MLA for taking the law into his hands by constructing an illegal structure though his lawyer pleaded that he didn’t do it. His plea for permission to hold prayers at the site during Ramzan was also rejected and the court asked everyone concerned not to politicise or communalise the issue. NDMC informed the court that it had taken possession of the land and had handed it over to ASI which in turn asked for police protection so that it could start excavations after the monsoon. The bench left it to the discretion of ASI to determine whether any structure needs to be demolished to undertake excavations. It, however, reserved its judgment on the plea for contempt of court proceedings against officers, parties and individuals concerned.
Shariat law doesn’t approve of what Shoaib Iqbal and his followers did. Scholars rubbished him saying it was all a gimmick. A mosque, they say, can be built only on a wakf property or the land offered by the owner for the purpose. Mufti Arif Kazmi, professor of Islamic Law at Dar-ul-Uloom, Deoband is reported to have further stated that namaz must not be offered without the permission of the owner because in case the owner denied permission, prayers offered there wouldn’t be inadmissible. The Imam of Fatehpuri Masjid Dr Mufti M Mukarram Ahmad is in agreement. He says mosques built in haste without a clear title have to be demolished and recalls how he had to issue a fatwa for the demolition of a mosque built on a Government land in the Geeta Colony of East Delhi. Will sane advice of moderate Muslims be ever heard?