Centuries-Old Mosque Sealed in Maharashtra Amidst Land Dispute with Hindutva Groups

Web DeskJuly 17, 2023

A historical mosque in Erandol town, Maharashtra, has been temporarily sealed by the district administration following claims made by a Hindutva group. The group alleges that the mosque was constructed by demolishing a Hindu religious structure. The Mosque Committee Trust has challenged this claim in the Aurangabad High Court, seeking permission to continue offering prayers at the mosque. However, the court has not yet scheduled a hearing for the case.

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The Trust, responsible for the mosque’s upkeep, argues that the district administration’s decision to seal the mosque is unlawful since it is built on a registered waqf property. The Trust’s lawyer, Advocate Shahid Nadeem, asserts that matters related to waqf properties should be addressed by the Waqf Tribunal and accuses the district collector of bypassing the appropriate authority. He presents evidence, including a video of individuals praying in the mosque and documents verifying its waqf status.

The Hindutva group, Pandav Vara Sangharsh Samiti, asserts that the mosque was erected by demolishing the Pandav Vara structure that previously occupied the site. In May, the group’s president filed a complaint with the Jalgaon district magistrate, alleging unlawful encroachment by the mosque’s trust on their land.

District Collector Aman Mittal summoned all relevant parties, including the petitioner, mosque trustee, revenue officer (Tehsildar), and a representative from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), to hear their arguments. After discussions, the collector issued an order prohibiting prayers at the mosque and implemented Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPc) due to the sensitivity of the issue. The administration has also requested documentation from the Waqf authorities to further investigate the matter.

The case remains unresolved, with the Trust’s plea to continue prayers at the mosque awaiting a hearing in the Aurangabad High Court. The dispute highlights the tensions surrounding land ownership and religious structures, underscoring the need for a fair and impartial resolution that respects the rights of all parties involved.

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