A local Hindu organisation in Satara, Maharashtra, has objected to an illegally erected Masjid on government land. Members of the Hindu organisation have asked that the unlawful construction be removed and have threatened to build a massive Hanuman Mandir on the location if their demands are not met.
The incident was reported in the Phaltan village in Maharashtra’s Satara district. In 2013, the Masjid in question was allegedly built unlawfully, and the premises were further expanded during the lockdown in 2021. Some Muslim members in the region have also lately established a ‘Dargah and Masjid Trust’ there and mentioned it on the board, which the protesting Hindu members claim does not exist.
Given this, Hindu organisations have sought an investigation into the matter as well as the demolition of the illegal construction from government land in Phaltan.
According to the reports, it began in 2012, when the Masjid was constructed illegally by a few local Muslims living in the Malthan part of the village. Mangesh Khandare, a Hindu activist, later filed a PIL claiming that the Masjid was built unlawfully on government land. Khandare published the relevant evidence in the PIL and requested the dismantling of the illegally constructed structure.
The petitioner also prayed to direct the respondents to investigate the owners and developers of the illegal structure mentioned and take appropriate legal action against them.
In 2013, the Bombay High Court took cognisance of the PIL and ordered the relevant authorities to take action against the Masjid within 10 weeks and notify the petitioner. However, no action was taken at the time. So far, no action has been taken, which resulted in further construction on the illegal premises.
Following the judgement of the Bombay High Court in 2013, a Muslim woman from the village named Mumtaj Mujavar claimed ownership of the aforementioned government land.
She initiated a legal case to claim the ownership of the land, claiming that it belonged to her paternal aunt, Ashabi Kom Hussain Mujavar (now deceased). Mumtaj claimed that because Ashabi was unmarried, she was her sole heir to the land. Mumtaj claims that the Indian government illegally seized the land during India’s partition in 1947. Mumtaj pleaded, “We came to know about the illegal grabbing only in 2012. The land belongs to my aunt and now it should be transferred in our name”.
The Satara court responded by ordering the woman to provide the names and current addresses of the Ashabi, as well as to publish a notice in the local newspaper. Mumtaj then failed to submit the requirement and did not appear in court for the next year. During the last hearing in December 2012, the court was prepared to dismiss the application, but in the spirit of justice, it decided to give the applicant (Mumtaj) one more chance.
However, in 2019, the case was finally dismissed.
According to a resident of Malthan, there was no Masjid in the Malthan area before 2012, and a few Muslim people used to assemble in their private properties (homes) to offer Namaz. The Muslim population in the area expanded dramatically after the Masjid was built.
During Ramzan recently, the Muslims had put up an illegal board indicating that the Masjid belongs to the ‘Dargah and Masjid Trust’. The petitioner has written several letters to the government authorities, including the Revenue Officer, Collector and Municipality authorities, claiming that the Masjid is illegal and should be demolished, but to no avail.