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Muslims To Vacate Homes Around UP’s Gorakhnath Temple for Security

Gorakhpur DM Pandian said, “They all signed on the letter themselves. It’s a democratic country, they can withdraw.”

Updated
India
5 min read
From Mahant Digvijay Nath to Yogi Adityanath, Gorakhnath temple has always been a hotbed of political activity in India.
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Eleven Muslim families are being asked to give up their homes situated close to the Gorakhnath temple for the purpose of ‘security’, to the UP state government, The Quint has learnt.

According to this agreement letter, eleven people have been named in this document, and all of them are from the minority community. Of the eleven, ten families have signed on 28 May 2021.

While two of those 11 families have told us on record that they signed on the document under pressure, there are other families who have indicated that they do not have any problem with giving up their land.

The Quint spoke to the Gorakhpur District Magistrate Vijendra Pandian who told us that no one was forced to sign the document and that they could walk away from the deal if they wanted. “I am disclosing to you that they were going to get crores of rupees for their land,” Pandian said.

The administration said this plan was at its nascent stage and the people in the area clarified that no coercive action had been taken.

We cover:

  • What Does the Agreement Document (Sehmati Patra) Say?
  • Men Who Do Not Want To Give Their Land: Signed Agreement Letter Under Pressure and Fear
  • Why There Are Some Who Want To Give Up Their Land
  • What Does the DM Gorakhpur Say: No One’s Land Will Be Forcefully Taken Away

What Does the Agreement Document (Sehmati Patra) Say?

The document reads:

“In the surrounding of Gorakhpur temple, keeping in mind the security, the administration has decided that in the southeast side of the temple in Tappa town in the Sadar area, the people named below will give our land to the state government and our signature stands as proof for the same. We have no objections to giving our land away. Please find enclosed signature below.”

The ten families who have signed are Mohammad Faizan, Mohammad Jahir, two homes belonging to Mohammad Shakir Hussain Nigannad Khursheed Alam, Mohammad Jamshed Alam, Musheer Ahmed, Iqbal Ahmed, Javed Akhtar, and Noor Mohammad. One family has not yet signed and it remains unclear why.

In some cases, there is more than one name under a particular property as there are brothers who own the property.

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Men Who Do Not Want To Give Their Land: Signed Agreement Letter Under Pressure and Fear

Seventy-year-old Musheer Ahmed said only owners of Muslim houses were being asked to sign on the agreement letter, "No Hindu family has a house here. Only 11 Muslim families had to sign it. We have been living here for over 125 years. Out of 11 Muslim families, some families are ready to go, if they are able to go then sure they should do that, but where will the poor people like me go?”

Similarly 71-year-old Javed Akhter lives in his home with nine family members.

“The police are saying that they will, for the temple’s safety, build a police chowki (stand) for which they want us to evacuate our homes.”

Both Ahmed and Akhter do not have land to build their homes elsewhere and both tell us that they signed on the document under pressure.

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“They came out of nowhere a few days ago and said we had to sign under pressure. There are some Muslim families who are in their favour, so in that relation were caught under pressure,” Akhter explained. Ahmed said that a local administration official came and sat at his home, who was telling him how the government was trying to strengthen security in the area.

“He said sign on the document, this does not have any value. Whenever you want you can take the signature back. No wrong message will go out. Which is when people who were around said that since something wrong was happening, the wrong message was bound to go out,” Ahmed said.

While the reason cited by the administration is to set up a police stand, Akhter says that there are already two in the area. “There are already two police stands, one inside the temple and another which is about 100 feet from my home. So one can say we are just being cleared out for no reason.”

Both say there was a meeting called by the administration on Wednesday, 2 June, but they did not go.

“We are speaking to lawyers in Gorakhpur and the High Court and taking advise, then we will decide our next course of action after that,” Akhter said.

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Why There Are Some Who Want To Give Up Their Land

Akhter and Musheer Ahmed said that while there are people on the list, who own property and land elsewhere, they do not have a problem with giving up their homes here.

Akhter said:

“For the last three to four months, there was talk about only the land of a single home being used to build a police chowki. The family and some others as well, own big homes but compared to the number of people who live in those homes, space does not suffice. Hence, they want to give away this home, get some money, they anyway have land elsewhere, so they will build other homes.”

When The Quint reached out to Shahir Hussain from the list who confirmed he had signed the document.

Before we could ask anything, he kept saying, “Nothing like this has happened, no proposal has been made that our houses will be auctioned off. It was just an agreement letter and it is at a preliminary stage.”

When this reporter said that that was alright but the letter stated that he did not have a problem giving his land to the state government, he said, “No, nothing like this is written in the document.” When asked if he had even read the document he had signed, he said, “Yes I have, but these are wrong rumours that are being floated.”

After this he cut the call and didn’t pick up for follow-ups.

The locals however state that not everyone is against selling their land.

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What Does the DM Gorakhpur Say: No One’s Land Will be Forcefully Taken Away

The first thing the DM asked was where this reporter got the document from. “The numbers are there so you can ask them directly. These are only rumours. I do not know what is the intention of those people,” he said. When told we had spoken to two members who had on record told us that they had signed under pressure, he said, “Then fine, do not give us the land, there is no pressure on compulsion on them. Where are we putting pressure on them? This entire process is in a nascent stage. These men have signed on their own and initiated these proceedings. For security reasons, the government asked if they are willing to give land or no, if not it is alright and fine.”

DM Gorakhpur Vijyendra Pandian said he has the recording of the people who have signed and that will be shared on social media to counter the claims.

When asked about the threats and pressure, he said:

“They are getting a good quantum of money, running into crores of rupees, which is why they signed and they are also getting an alternative piece of land. The entire process is in a preliminary stage so the quantum of money was only informally communicated as it is not supposed to be disclosed in the media. Now they are playing politics.”

He said these messages of half of the letter being shared are being done with the intention of dividing Hindus and Muslims and reinforcing sterotypes, “For your information, not the entire document is being shared on social media. The original document is with me, which we cannot publish or reveal. Only partial documents are being shared with incorrect intentions,” Pandian said.

The DM said that they are tracking handles that are sharing incorrect information and will take action against people.

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

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