Hubballi (Karnataka) [India]: Posters of Veer Savarkar and Bal Gangadhar Tilak put up on stage during Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations at the Idgah ground Maidan in Hubbali were removed by the authorities on Wednesday night.
Savarkar’s photograph was also placed at the backdrop of the idol, and a poster of Savarkar on a banner was placed on the dais.
Authorities said the banner sporting the images was removed as it violated the permissible criterion for the event.
However, a banner with a picture of Veer Savarkar was put on display outside the main entrance of the Rani Chennamma Maidan Gajanan Utsav Mahamandal event at the Eidgah Maidan.
Union minister Prahlad Joshi on Wednesday said Savarkar’s photo had been put as a backdrop. “The organisers believe that Savarkar is a great patriot so they have put it. What’s wrong with that,” Joshi said.
He was speaking with media persons after attending Maha Arati at the Idgah Maidan Ganesh celebrations. The celebrations were held amid tight security and heavy police presence.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Karnataka High Court had allowed Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations to go ahead at the Idgah ground in Hubbali. The order rejecting the petition filed by Anjuman-E-Islam said, the ground is the property of the Hubli-Dharawad Municipal Commission and they can allot the land to whoever they desire so.
This is the first time that the Hindu festival is being celebrated at the controversial ground.
The Idgah ground in Hubballi has been caught up in a controversial dispute for decades until 2010, when the Supreme Court in its judgment held that, the ground is the exclusive property of Hubli-Dharawad Municipal Corporation.
The Anjuman-e-Islam, the petitioner who has now approached the Supreme Court challenging the Karnataka High Court order passed late on Tuesday (August 30), is perhaps trying to repeat what happened in the Bengaluru’s Idgah maidan where the Apex Court had asked to maintain status quo, and thereby no festivities took place there. But the matter concerning the Idgah maidan in Hubbali is very different. Here the property belonged to Dharwad Municipality, and the petitioner was a licensee who had permission for namaz only on certain specified days of the year.
The maidan has been targeted by the Anjuman-e-Islam for about a hundred years now. In 1921 it sought permission for prayers there. I was granted by the Hubbali Municipality. Then from the 1960s onwards they have tried consistently to violate the term of agreement by building permanent structures there in the form of shopping complex. In the 1990s during fervour of Ramjanmabhoomi movement the raising of National Flag was stopped in the ground, fearing communal tension would erupt.
In 1994, when BJP leader Uma Bharti announced she would hoist the Tricolour at the maidan on Independence Day, a curfew was imposed. As they entered the town several of her supporters were arrested one kilometre away from the ground and six people lost their life due police firing.
After years of litigation, it’s only in 2010, the Hubbali municipal body found some relief in the verdict of the Supreme Court. It confirmed the order of the Karnataka High Court and the lower courts, ruling that the Idgah maidan was the exclusive property of the Hubbali-Dharwad Municipal Corporation, and that the Anjuman had the licence only to hold prayers in the ground twice a year, and not to build any permanent structure on it.
Twelve years have gone by but the opposition to Hindu festivals and nationalistic events are still opposed by the Anjuman-e-Islam. The courts have backed the Hubbali-Dharwad Municipal Corporation in the past and it’s not going to be any different this time.