As Expected, Sheila Dixit pledges to rebuild mosque, Blames DDA!

published on January 15, 2011

Faced with protests, CM pledges to rebuild mosque

 NEW DELHI: A wavering government buckled under the pressure of a belligerent Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid and waves of angry namazis rustled up by him to concede on Friday that the mosque in Jangpura, declared illegal by the Delhi High Court and pulled down on Wednesday, would be rebuilt.

Chief minister Sheila Dikshit blamed the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) for acting in “an unfair way” by demolishing the mosque without letting the Delhi Wakf Board present its case before the court. “I have sent a note to the Prime Minister apprising him about the situation,” she told TOI.

The DDA had, however, acted at the court`s behest which was prodding it to give a compliance report of its demolition order. In fact, when the Wakf Board filed an application before the High Court on Friday seeking a review of its order, the court rebuked it and threatened to impose a hefty fine on it. The board hurriedly withdrew its application.

Obviously, a complicated situation has arisen. On the one hand, there is the court, determined to uphold the law and not allow illegal structures to come up in the name of religion, and on the other, there is rising passion, and a government apprehensive of the political cost of protests escalating and opposition leaders exploiting the situation to their advantage.

The action through the day was at two city locations 8 km apart — the Jama Masjid and at the site of the demolished mosque in Jangpura, bordering Nizamuddin. Early in the day the CM reached Jama Masjid for a meeting with Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari. She assured that Imam that prayers would be allowed at the site and mosque itself would be rebuilt.

Some time later, Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav reached Jama Masjid to lend support to a large crowd that was progressively getting angry and restive. “Mosques are the identity of Muslims,” he told the crowd. “By demolishing them the government is trying to oppress the community. We will fight against it.”

Egged on by the Imam and pledges of support from politicians, a sizeable crowd reached Nizamuddin on taxis, motorbikes and buses. The heavy security bandobast, comprising 1000 policemen, six armed companies RAF, Rajasthan Armed Constabulary and Delhi Police reserve battalion, put up a feeble resistance before wilting.

During the brief face-off, six people, including four policemen, were injured and 23 vehicles damaged. Early in the morning 250 locals from the Nizamuddin J J Colony had entered the disputed site. By 10.30 am, a crowd from Jama Masjid began swelling at the barricade on Mathura Road near the Nizamuddin police station. The stretch from there to the Ashram Chowk had already been blocked off.

Around 1.30pm, the Imam reached this spot. The steady push against the barricade became a shove, and even as the Imam urged use of “dimag” (brains) rather than muscle, the picket line collapsed and the crowd surged to the site of the demolished mosque.

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