The piece of land that led to the Saharanpur row had passed hands from a Muslim to a Hindu family before finally landing with the gurdwara.
While the Muslims claim that the 3,500 square yard plot had a 3400 square feet masjid on it, and that the gurdwara committee cannot use that space to construct their place of worship, the Sikhs claim otherwise. The Sikhs say they bought the land from a Hindu family to build a langar hall and there was no masjid then.
Naib Sheher Quazi Nadim Akhtar told The Indian Express that initially the land belonged to one Hassan Askari, and it was popularly known as ‘peeli kothi’. On the plot, there was a masjid, called ‘Askari mosque’. Askari left India during Partition and sold off his land to two Hindu sisters. “He, however, 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 stood cannot be used for any other purpose,” 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.
Later 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 where the masjid was situated. When Askari sold the land, he clearly mentioned that the land on which the masjid stands is not the part of the deal. Hence it belongs to the Waqf board now and any construction on that land will be considered illegal,” he said.
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The Muslims in December 2013 gave an application to the City Magistrate, who 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, ruled in their favour. “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.”