Tensions flared between Hindus and Muslims in Badaun’s Sisarka village on Monday over a dispute regarding an under-construction mosque after Hindutva leader Sadhvi Prachi allegedly met villagers and announced that she would not let any structure be built on “illegal” land. She also reportedly said she would speak to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath about the issue.
Last Friday, groups from both communities had clashed after Muslims offered namaz for the first time at the disputed site. While the Muslims claimed that the plot of panchayat land was donated over a decade ago by a former village head for constructing a madrasa and a mosque, Hindus called the structure “illegal”. Later, cross FIRs were registered at Faizganj Behta police station on charges including rioting and dacoity.
On Monday, Prachi addressed a small gathering of villagers. “Sadhvi Prachi assured that she will not let the structure be constructed on illegal land and will approach the CM,” said Netram Sharma, a villager. Prachi, however, could not be contacted.
“A former village head had donated some land to the Muslim community to built a madrasa and a mosque. As the madrasa was the priority and government funds were available, it was built first. Now, they are trying to build the mosque with the help of donations,” said Kashmir Singh Yadav, SHO of Faizganj Behta police station.
Confirming that Prachi had met villagers, the SHO said: “She said she will not let any structure to be built on illegal land.”
The Hindus objected to the construction on grounds that a mosque already existed in the village and that it had a population of just 450 Muslims. “The tussle between the two communities escalated on Friday when prayers were being offered at the under-construction site and people from the Hindu community gathered there to protest. An argument turned violent, but timely intervention by police prevented it from turning into a major incident. There is a dispute over the land as the present village head does not want a mosque to be built there,” said Yadav.
While an FIR was registered against locals Yusuf Khan, Chaman Khan and five others under various IPC sections including rioting and deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings, another case was lodged against 16 persons under charges including rioting and dacoity, the SHO said, adding that the sub-divisional magistrate has initiated an inquiry to identify if the land was indeed given to Muslims by a former village head.
Police personnel have been deployed to maintain peace in the village, and efforts are being made to pacify both two sides to settle the dispute through dialogue, said police.
Prachi was in the news on Sunday, when she had told mediapersons: “By becoming the chief minister, Yogi Adityanath has not only ushered in a feeling of happiness and enthusiasm among the public, but also prevented it from becoming another Pakistan.”