‘Dhanipur Is Famous’: Ayodhya Villagers Welcome SC-Directed Mosque
Dhanipur has a population of around 1600 people, of which 50 percent are Hindus and the other 50 percent Muslims.
Fate changed for Dhanipur village on 5 February.
A nondescript village on the outskirts of Ayodhya, the residents of Dhanipur never imagined that their home would make front page news with reporters and local leaders flocking to see it. But Dhanipur is set to witness a change after a UP government spokesperson picked the village, on the directions of the SC’s ruling on Ayodhya land dispute, that a mosque for Muslims be built here as compensation.
While three sites were being looked at, Dhanipur was zeroed in as the final choice. "Now our village is famous. It is famous across India already. We are very happy. What is happening here is historic," the sarpanch (headman) of Dhanipur village, Rakesh Yadav, told The Quint a day after it was announced that 5 acres of the village land will be used to build a mosque as part of the SC judgment.
Dhanipur has a population of around 1,600 people, of which fifty percent are Hindus and the other fifty percent Muslims, who engage primarily in agricultural work, manual labour or small-scale business in Ayodhya, which is 23 kilometers from the district.
For Yadav, this was not new information. On the very same day, 8 November, that the SC delivered its judgment on the Ram Mandir-Babri masjid dispute, the tehsildar accompanied by local policemen paid a visit to him.
Yadav recalls, "On the very same day that the SC announced its verdict on the Babri Masjid dispute the tehsildar along with local policemen came to our village. They came between 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm. They spoke to us about the 25 acres of government-owned land in the village and said they could need the land for the construction of a mosque. That land records needed to be furnished and submitted. We provided them all papers."
To this day, crops are grown on the government-owned land.
Now while all the Hindus and Muslims The Quint spoke to were very happy with the verdict, they also see the construction of the mosque as an opportunity to make money, set up business and have the government introduce more facilities to their village.
The village currently has a primarily school only. It does not have a hospital, a senior secondary school, or other amenities.
Ram Kishan Yadav, 50, who was born in this village, said, "We have no issue whatsoever with this structure. People from the country and abroad will come and visit our village. This is the decision of the SC, but what is the government's contribution to this? The court has said we should give 5 acres of land for the mosque, the government should add another 5 acres so we will be able to build a park, school, hospital, parking space among other things," he said.
Hari Shankar adds that he is happy with the construction too. "The construction of the mosque means development for us. When they build this mosque they absolutely must build a hospital as well. There is barely any development in the area."
Mohammad Islam, 49, who has spent his life in Dhanipur is also happy with the decision, "While some of my kin in Ayodhya seem disappointed that the mosque will be built over 20 kilometers away. I am very happy it will be constructed here. More work will come. More opportunities will arise. This is a welcome move, we are waiting for the work to begin."
Naseem Shah, 48, said "We want them to add another 5 acres here. There is so much land here. At least 25 acres of government land. All of it can be used."
Aasharam Yadav, 40, believes this will only enhance love and cooperation between residents of the area. All of them spoke of the Hazrat Shahgada Shaha's dargah in the village which stands as a symbol of cooperation between both communities.
“It has been here for generations now. Every year there is a fair organised on 28,29 and 30 April for almost 60 years now. Muslims from across 20 kilometers on all sides come for this three-day affair," Yadav said.
While the structure was much smaller, it was Haji Zubair Khan – responsible for organising the Zubairganj pashu bazaar in Faizabad – who put in money over the years to make the structure more grand. “He used to visit the site and made many wishes, which kept coming true. His faith in it grew stronger and he became closer to the dargah and beautified it over the years. Earlier it was a weak structure and later it become more and more grand,” Yadav said.
Speaking about how this three-day affair is attended by Hindus of the village and around as well, he said, "Hindus and Muslims have stayed together for generations. There are two other mosques in Dhanipur village and there are four temples. Even when the Babri demolition happened there was no tension here whatsoever. This is a good place to build the mosque."
But while the villagers expressed their happiness over the building of a mosque, Zafaryab Jilani from the All India Muslim Personal Law Board is upset. “We have said we will not take the 5-acre land since the day of the SC judgment,” he maintains.
He added that the offering of the land is both wrong and illegal. “We had already put the review petition in the Supreme Court that was rejected. It is against the Supreme Court's 1994 judgment and Ayodhya Acquisition Act. The offer of 5 acres land for mosque in Ayodhya is also against Ayodhya Acquisition Act. We have decided to not take the land. This offer is wrong and illegal."
While Jilani, who represented the Sunni Waqf Board and coordinated the strategy of the Muslim parties, is against taking the allocated 5 acres of land in Dhanipur, the board is expected to hold a meeting on 24 February to decide on whether or not to accept the land as an alternate site to build a mosque.
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