The piece of land that led to the row in Saharanpur district of Western Uttar Pradesh had passed hands from a Muslim individual to a Hindu family before finally landing with the gurdwara.
While the Muslims claim that the 3,500 square yards plot had a 3400 square feet masjid in it, and that the gurdwara committee cannot use that space to construct their place of worship, the Sikhs claim otherwise. According to the Sikhs, they bought a plain plot of land from a Hindu family to build a langar hall and there was no masjid in it at that time.
The Indian Express accessed the records of the Municipal Corporation, Sunni Waqf Board and other related documents.
The Naib Sheher, Quazi Nadim Akhtar, said initially the land belonged to one Hassan Askari, and it was popularly known as ‘peeli kothi’. Inside the plot, there was a masjid, which was called ‘Askari mosque’. Askari left India during Partition and sold off his land to two Hindu sisters.
“He, however, clearly mentioned in the sale deed paper that the 3,500 square yard land is being sold to the Hindu sisters but the 3,400 square feet land over which the masjid exists cannot be used for any other purpose. He stated that the masjid will remain there till the end,” he said.
The sale deed paper of 1949 clearly mentions the measurement and location in the plot. In 1984, the 3,400 square feet land was registered with the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board as a masjid.
“Even in the survey of India of Waqf property, the piece of land is mentioned as a masjid with number 1102,” Akhtar said.
It is only later that the gurdwara committee bought the land from the Hindu family. “The entire 3,500 square yard land is theirs and they can construct whatever they wish but they have to leave out the 3,400 square feet land where the masjid was situated. When Askari sold the land to the Hindu family, he clearly mentioned that the land on which the masjid stands is not the part of the sale deal. Hence it belongs to the Waqf board now and any construction on that land will be considered illegal,” Akhtar said.
The Muslims in December 2013 gave an application to the City Magistrate, requesting him to safeguard the piece of land from any illegal construction. The Magistrate then passed an order stating that any construction on the land will be considered illegal till the dispute is on.
Gurdwara Samiti advocate Daljeet Singh Kochar, however, said that on May 13, 2013, the Civil Court, Saharanpur, had ruled in their favour and that the entire land was theirs.
“We bought the property from a Hindu. when we bought it, it was a plain land and there was no mention of a masjid anywhere. We have all documents to support our claims.”