Barabanki Mosque Demolition: Tehsildar Invokes Unrelated 2016 HC Order to Declare Structure Illegal

Barabanki Mosque Demolition: Tehsildar Invokes Unrelated 2016 HC Order to Declare Structure Illegal

May 20, 2021

Structure of Ghareeb Nawaz Mosque

Tehsildar is said to have mentioned wrong khata number of the mosque’s land in his notice

Waquar Hasan | Clarion India

NEW DLEHI – Tehsildar of Ramsnehi Ghat in Uttar Pradesh’s Barabanki district invoked an unrelated High Court judgment of 2016 to declare Ghareeb Nawaz mosque of Bani Kadar village “illegal structure” and pulled it down on Monday under tight security.

In its notice sent to the President of Masjid Committee, Mushtaq Ali, on March 15, the Tehsildar mentioned the judgment and said, “At public roads (including streets), streets, footpath, roadside, lane, etc, there should not be any inconvenience in transportation and public movement due to religious activities. Such activities should be held at the private places or places specified for religious activities”.

In its reply to the notice, Ali made it clear that the Ghareeb Nawaz mosque is not situated on public road, street, footpath, roadside and land nor the mosque is creating any inconvenience in the transportation and public movement.

The president of the Mosque Committee also rejected Tehsildar’s claim that the mosque is situated in the compound of Tehsil Ramsnehi Ghat along the roadside.

“In the above mentioned notice dated 15-3-2021, it is completely untrue and written against the official documents that the above mentioned mosque is situated in the compound of Tehsil Ramsnehi Ghat,” said Ali in its reply to the notice.

Levelled ground after demolition of the mosque

Lawyer-activist Syed Farooq Ahmed is known for raising human rights issues. He told Clarion India that the notice issued by the Tehsilder mentioning High Court judgment cannot be applied to the Ghareeb Nawaz Mosque because the religious place is not blocking any path and road.

“The mosque is 150-200 feet away from the road. It is far behind the tehsil compound. The second thing is that the mosque is not new. It is decades old. Leaving other things aside, even if we see the electricity bill, it shows that the mosque has existed since 1959…. Another thing is that the notice also mentioned the wrong khata number of the mosque’s land. It did not mention the khata khesra number of the land where the mosque is located according to the mosque’s revenue record,” he said.

According to Ahmed, in their reply to the Tehsildar’s notice, mosque committee members clarified these facts about the situation of the religious place. But the government did not take into account the facts mentioned by them and imposed a ban on offering prayer in the mosque on March 17. The following day, the mosque authority went to the Allahabad High Court against the notice. But the HC said that the notice only sought documentary evidence about the mosque’s land and did not ask to demolish the structure. The court also asked the mosque authority to file their reply within 15 days. On the direction of the court, they again filed a reply to the notice on April 1. But the administration did not make it clear through any notification whether their reply was accepted or not. On May 17, the administration suddenly bulldozed the mosque under tight security.

Muslims offering namaz at the mosque

Ahmed said soon after preventing namaz at the mosque, the administration came to demolish the wall of the mosque. Local people protested against the administration’s action. The police launched a crackdown against the protesters and booked them under several IPC sections including stringent act National Security Act (NSA) and Section 307. “Also, people were severely beaten up. Their houses were vandalized. So, they became scared,” said Ahmed.

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