Ruling Indian party continues policy of demolishing ancient mosques

New Delhi- The government's Delhi Development Authority demolished about 100 Muslim graves, including an ancient mosque and an attached religious school and “shrines of saints” in south Delhi's Mehrauli area, before dawn prayers last Tuesday.

The mosque's imam was surprised by the order for demolition after cordoning off the area, confiscating the phones of those present inside it and those from the school associated with it, and forcefully expelling them from the area.

The authorities did not allow the Imam, the school students and its teachers to take away their belongings, which included hundreds of copies of the Holy Quran, religious books, money and food, all of which were destroyed under the blow of the machinery. , They immediately moved the debris to another place, and poured earth to level the place, so as to give it a new look.

Although a petition against the demolition was filed in the Delhi High Court, no notification or warning of the demolition reached the mosque or the school committee.

The Delhi Waqf Board, also a government body, says all these lands, including mosques, schools and graves, are endowment lands for Muslims, and government departments cannot exercise control over them.

Angered by the arbitrary action of the Delhi Development Authority, the Mosque and School Committee went to the Supreme Court the next day. The court fixed February 12 for hearing the case, and also issued an order to the Delhi Development Authority not to dispose of it or not to dispose of it. Make any changes in the land of mosque, school and graves.

Demolition of a historic mosque in New Delhi
The demolition affected dozens of Muslim graves in the mosque courtyard (Al Jazeera)

Ancient mosques and settlements

The demolished mosque was named “Akhund Ji Masjid” or “Jinn Masjid”, and is said to date back to the era of Raja Iltutmish, the founder of the Delhi Sultanate, who died in the year 1236. The mosque attached to the religious school is also historical, and as far as the tombs are concerned, they are about 4 centuries old, and contain the tombs of some saints. These monuments are protected not only because they are endowment lands, but also because they are historical monuments, and they cannot be demolished as per Indian law.

The demolition of the mosque and school coincided with the demolition of several other religious sites across Delhi. The same night, Hindus also attacked an Islamic cemetery in the Mohan Garden area of ​​the city, damaging several graves.

Last month, the issue was raised about the “Golden Mosque” (Golden Mosque) in Delhi, which dates back to the Mughal period, and was taken over by the British when they built the new city of Delhi, which was named “New Delhi”. Was known from. Because of its historical importance and because it was a “living mosque”, that is, it was used, it was not abandoned.

The municipality claimed that the mosque disrupted traffic in the area, so it sought to demolish it under the pretext of widening the road, although an official committee had previously ruled that the mosque was not an obstruction, but the demolition order was stopped and people revolted and went to the Supreme Court.

Like earlier, an ancient mosque named “Shahi Masjid” (Shahi Masjid) was demolished in Allahabad (Prayag Raj) city on January 9, 2023 on the pretext of widening a public road.

frequent accidents

The latest incident is not the first of its kind. Rather, demolition of mosques, dargahs, tombs and shrines of saints has become a common occurrence across India, especially in states ruled by the Indian People's Party, such as Uttar Pradesh. Khand, Assam and Madhya Pradesh.

In the state of Assam, several mosques and dozens of Islamic schools were demolished, and more than 350 tombs and shrines were demolished in the northern state of Uttarakhand during the past two years, in addition to efforts to drive Muslims out of the state. . The pretext is that it is the abode of Hindu gods and no one else can live there.

For several years, Indian authorities have used large-scale heavy machinery (bulldozers) to carry out demolition operations in states ruled by the Indian People's Party, especially after Hindu protests and then claims that Muslims attacked them. Throw stones.

This is enough to demolish the houses of the accused using bulldozers, which reach the site within hours or the next day of the demonstration, before the judicial decision is issued.

Earlier in October 2022, an entire neighborhood of Muslim fishermen was demolished in “Dwarka House” off the coast of Gujarat state. The demolition process affected hundreds of houses, shops, mosques, tombs and temples, but one Hindu temple on the coast stood alone. Was preserved.

international demands

With the expansion of the demolition policy, 3 UN Rapporteurs in June 2022 drew the attention of the Indian government that demolishing Muslim houses with machinery in states ruled by the Indian People's Party amounts to a policy of “collective punishment of Muslims”. And they demanded that the Indian government stop this practice. This policy is unfair.

But the warning did not sway Indian officials, especially in the capital Delhi, where dozens of such incidents have occurred in the past few years.

These incidents take place under the pretext of beautifying the area, widening roads, or demolishing unlicensed buildings, while not attacking the thousands of illegal Hindu temples that spring up everywhere in the capital and beyond, in public parks and river banks. Are spread over. The Yamuna River which runs through the city, and no one is allowed to enter it, is also not allowed to build in or around it.

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