Masjid Council: Police Asked for Mahmud Gawan Madrasa Gate to Be Opened for Puja

Was Bidar Police complicit in helping a communal mob enter the premises of a historic madrasa?

Hindi Female

Minutes before a mob of 50 to 60 men entered the historic Mahmud Gawan Madrasa premises to shout Hindu religious slogans, a Bidar town police official called the masjid authorities to facilitate a 'puja.'

Speaking to The Quint on the condition of anonymity, a member of the masjid committee, who received the call of the police official, said, "The call came around 12.30 am on 6 October, and a policeman asked whether the gates could be opened to allow a 'puja.' We did not give the keys." The masjid committee member added, "The police said those leading the procession wanted to pray inside and it will be good if that is allowed."


Meaning, the police was not just present when the mob entered the ancient monument that is governed by the Archeological Society of India (ASI), it appears that some members of the police patrolling team also tried to facilitate the entry.

When The Quint reached out to Bidar district police authorities for a comment on the alleged call, they refused to comment. "The investigation is going on currently. We cannot divulge details of what transpired on the night," Mahesh Meghannavar, Additional Superintendent of Police Bidar told The Quint.


Bidar Town Police Station Just Meters Away

What happened at the madrasa? On 6 October around 1.30 am, while a Dussehra procession was being taken out on the road adjacent to the ancient madrasa which also houses a mosque, a mob allegedly broke open the locks of the gate and entered the premises. Allegedly, the mob, which stayed on the premises till 2.30 am, shouted Hindu religious slogans including 'Jai Sri Ram' and 'Jai Bhavani'. Also, 'Vande Mataram' and 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' chants were heard in a purported video of their activities, which went viral later, the same day. Vermilion and flowers were also showered on the rear wall of the mosque where the 'puja' was held.

Was Bidar Police complicit in helping a communal mob enter the premises of a historic madrasa?

Visuals of the mob that allegedly entered the premises of Bidar's Mahmud Gawan Madrasa on 6 October.

(Image: Accessed by The Quint)

Ironically, the Bidar Town Police Station is located just a few meters away from the structure where the incident took place.

"The police should have prevented the crowd from entering the premises because they had not sought permission from either the masjid authorities or the Archeological Society of India. They should have registered a case when the incident happened. They failed to do both," said Advocate Syed Talha who was present at Bidar Town Police Station when Muslim community members lodged a complaint against nine persons for "hurting religious sentiments."

The police have registered an FIR in the case, booking all the nine, and have also arrested four persons.

Was Bidar Police complicit in helping a communal mob enter the premises of a historic madrasa?

The mob which allegedly entered the premises of Mahmud Gawan Madrasa used cell phones as torches to light the place. 

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

The Mahmud Gawan Madrasa was built in 1472 as an Islamic university. The structure had residential facilities for students and teachers. These rooms are still conserved by the ASI and are open to visitors.

According to the ASI, Mahmud Gawan was a merchant from Gilan (now in Iran) who traveled to Bahmani Sultanate in the 15th century. He established the madrasa and later rose to become the kingdom's Prime Minister. The Bahmani Sultanate, at the time, ruled over large parts of the Deccan Plateau.

The site which is now under the ASI, does not offer Muslim religious education anymore. However, in the mosque which is located inside the structure, some young students do attend madrasa classes. The mosque itself, comes under the Wakf board and is governed by its own council.

"Even in the matters of the mosque like maintenance work, we have to take permission from ASI. How can such an incident happen at such a heritage site, which also has a religious institution?" asked the masjid committee member who spoke to The Quint.

Interestingly, the security guards, deployed by ASI at the mosque, were not present when the mob entered the premises.


A Dead Peepal Tree & Missing ASI Guards

While an ASI archeologist confirmed to The Quint that two security guards are deployed at the monument from 8 am to 8 pm, the two had left the premises for the night when the mob trespassed. "The ASI has also written to the Bidar Police about this trespassing incident," the ASI member claimed. The Bidar Police, however, have not confirmed that they have received a complaint from the ASI.

But why did the mob choose the structure? According to local residents, a sacred fig or peepal tree located a few meters away from the madrasa was being worshiped by Hindus till a few years ago. Till 2010, the tree was located on the premises of the structure. However, when the road adjacent to the madrasa got widened, taking away some areas of the compound, the tree ended up outside the madrasa's new compound wall.

"Locals have been tying threads to the tree for worship. But usually very few people used to do this," said a local resident, on the condition of anonymity. The tree, however, fell in 2018 during heavy rains, the locals claim.

But some Hindutva outfits allege that the tree was chopped down to prevent Hindus from worshiping near the masjid. The mob was simply trying to recreate the worship that used to happen at the location, a local resident claimed. "If they were trying to worship, then why were slogans raised?" counters Syed Talha, who regularly visits the mosque inside the madrasa.

A local Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ishwar Singh Thakur said, "For years on Vijayadasami day processions have been taken out from local shrines. This day also such a procession was taken out. Now the police have booked Hindu youth for no fault of theirs."

On 6 October, Muslim community members gathered at the masjid to protest what they called a "desecration of the mosque."

Though communal tension prevailed in Bidar town on Friday, 7 October, prayers were held at the mosque peacefully, amid heavy police presence. The SP of Bidar D Kishore Babu told media persons in Bidar, "The situation is under control and Bidar is peaceful. There were no untoward incidents on Friday."

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Topics:  KARNATAKA   Bidar   Dasara 

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