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May 2012
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COVER STORY

Ancient Mosque Martyred by Miners and Muslims
Our Correspondent
Jaipur
The place of worship, built a century ago in the ‘Kalandari’ style with just a platform and a wall facing the Kaaba, and without any roof, has been registered as a mosque in the list of Bhilwara district’s Wakf properties, published in the 1965 State Gazette.

A clandestine deal with the powerful mining lobby on a 100-year-old roofless mosque situated on a hill-top at Pur village in Bhilwara district of Rajasthan has resulted in its demolition. This has enraged the community, as the culprits were Muslims who sold the revered place of worship for Rs. 65 lakhs.
The Jindal Saw Limited, owned by the O. P. Jindal Group in which Congress MP Naveen Jindal has a stake, bought the mosque by paying the money to the Anjuman Committee of Pur and demolished the structure on April 19, 2012, to make way for mining of iron ore beneath it. The company has produced a receipt for the amount issued by the Anjuman.
The incident has sent shock waves among Muslims in Rajasthan and brought to light the questionable role of the Wakf Board, which was approached by the Anjuman for “guidance” in the matter. Instead of explicitly stating that the mosque is a listed Wakf property, the Board allowed the Anjuman to take action “as per the local situation and in accordance with the Shariah”.
There are widespread allegations that bribes running into crores of rupees were paid to the Wakf Board functionaries, government officers and politicians, in addition to Rs. 65 lakhs “officially paid” by Jindal Saw Limited, which was earlier allotted the hill and the surrounding areas for mining by the Rajasthan government.
Even though the police have registered a criminal case and arrested the company director and two office-bearers of the Anjuman, the demand for removal of Wakf Board Chairman, Liaqat Ali Khan is gaining ground. Muslim groups have also vociferously demanded a CBI inquiry into the chain of events.
Interestingly, the Anjuman obtained a Fatwa from the Imam of Gulmandi Jama Masjid, Maulana Hafeez-ur-Rehman, who visited the place and gave his opinion in writing that it was a “cluster of graves” rather than a mosque and it could be shifted elsewhere. He is now one of the accused in the case.
The place of worship, built a century ago in the ‘Kalandari’ style with just a platform and a wall facing the Kaaba, and without any roof, has been registered as a mosque in the list of Bhilwara district’s Wakf properties, published in the 1965 State Gazette.
A nervous Wakf Board chief has defended his “guidance”, saying it was only a suggestion for taking appropriate action to save the mosque from mining and did not involve any directive for demolition. The unconvinced Board members have distanced themselves from this dubious stand and are reportedly planning to move a resolution for Khan’s removal.
Meanwhile, the district administration has started reconstruction of the mosque at its original location. The mosque, which had both religious and architectural significance, unfortunately became the victim of greed of the mining lobby, with which a section of Muslims allegedly conspired and felt no qualms in razing the structure.
This is a classic instance of a mosque being martyred to satisfy the insatiable greed of the very people who were supposed to protect it. Lured by money, they connived with the miners. A devastating incident in the history of Muslims in Rajasthan.