For several months, Hindutva outfits have been protesting over the issue of ownership of the Idgah Maidan in Chamarajpet in Bengaluru. Now that the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has issued an order saying the property of the Eidgah Maidan belongs to the Revenue Department of the Karnataka state government, the outfits have gone a step ahead and called for demolition of the Qibla wall in the maidan.
The Qibla is the direction (west in India) facing which Muslims offer prayers and the wall that denotes this direction is called the Qibla wall.
'Illegal Constructions Should Be Razed Down': Hindutva Outfit Member
Citing the BBMP order dated 6 August, Mohan Kumar Gowda of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti said, "Since the Karnataka State Board of Auqaf (Wakf) had occupied the land illegally, any construction by the Wakf board on the maidan is also illegal and therefore should be demolished. If the construction is allowed to remain there, it will create a problem in the future for celebration of other events and lead to communal clashes. We’re not against any community but illegal constructions should be razed down."
Gowda further claimed that the waqf board illegally constructed the Qibla wall in 2006 and forged documents for its construction.
Joint Secretary of the Central Muslim Association (CMA), Hussain Shariff, refuted the claims made by Gowda and said that the original Qibla wall was constructed in 1817. “The wall had begun deteriorating, therefore we patched it and built a new wall around it in 2006, but the original wall was built back in 1817. We had submitted all necessary documents to the Wakf board, who then submitted them to the BBMP and yet, the ownership was given to the Revenue Department,” he said.
The Supreme Court had settled a long legal battle in 1964 and said that the land belonged to the CMA. The Hindutva groups had however contested this, leading to the BBMP's order.
Wakf Board Chairman Shafi Saadi stated that the board would wage a legal battle against the decision of BBMP. "The Supreme Court has given a verdict in 1965 that Eidgah Maidan is the property of the Wakf board. This decision is not tenable and the order amounts to contempt of court," he said.
'Never Faced Any Issue Over the Use of Maidan': Locals
In a previous report, TNM spoke to the locals who lived around the maidan. They said that they had never faced any issue over the use of the maidan. While no religious activity apart from Eid prayers was allowed on the ground, the locals said that their children used it as a playground and others for evening walks or for cattle feeds and there was no objection from anyone. They also said that they could only recall attempts by Hindutva groups to use the land only on two instances in the past 20 years.
The current ownership issue between the BBMP and the waqf board came to the forefront around June 2022, when Hindutva outfits sought permission to celebrate Ganesh Chathurthi, Yoga Day, and Independence Day on the ground but were denied permission by the BBMP and Bengaluru police.
The Chamarajpet Eidgah Maidan stands on an area of two acres but originally expanded up to 10 acres. It was given by the royal Wodeyar family of Mysuru to the Muslim community several decades ago to be used as a burial ground and as an Eidgah. After the burial ground was shifted to a different location, only two acres of the Eidgah maidan remained where Muslims gather twice a year to offer Eid prayers. Thus, what remained was just a land for Eid prayers to be offered in front of an existing minbar.
(Published in arrangement with The News Minute.)