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Muslims oppose Ganesh pandal near masjid, Hindus refuse to shift idol

Ganesh Chathurthi festivities are likely to coincide with Bakrid that may fall between September 22 and 24.

Written by Aditi Raja | Vadodara | September 15, 2015 2:51:14 am
ganesh festival ganeshotsava, pandal protest, muslim protest, ganesh idol, community clash, ahmedabad news, indian express The Ganesh pandal outside the Idgah Masjid. (Express Photo by Bhupendra Rana )

Three years ago Muslims had invited Hindus to install a Ganesh idol outside Idgah Masjid compound in Pratapnagar here during Ganesh Chaturthi, but this year it has turned into a contentious issue between the two communities as Bakrid coincides with the 10-day festival in the later half of September.

Muslims have objected to the presence of an idol just outside the masjid compound gate during Bakrid and after talks between the two communities broke down, the mutawalli of the Masjid has written to the city police chief, apprehending law and order problem.

“The compound is the property of the Idgah Masjid and belongs to the Wakf board. I requested organisers of the Ganesh pandal that since Eid-ul-Adha (Bakrid) is coinciding with Ganesh Chaturthi festivities this year, they must shift the idol as Muslims do not worship idols. Presence of an idol on the premises will hurt sentiments of many Muslims. After the mandal refused to shift the pandal, I requested the police commissioner to look into the matter as the issue could snowball into a law and order problem,” said mutawalli Syed Aamirullah Shukranullah.

Ganesh Chathurthi festivities are likely to coincide with Bakrid that may fall between September 22 and 24.

The Ganesh mandal, which has been installing the idol at the compound, has told the Muslim community that as per rituals, it is mandatory to install the idol of Ganesh at one spot for consecutive five years.

After the Ganesh mandal erected a tinned structure for the pandal near the gate of the compound, several Muslims registered protest before Aamirullah, apprehending that the idol would be visible to those offering Namaaz.

The mutawalli said the compound gate is kept open for only two Eid Namaaz — Ramzan Eid and Eid-ul-Adha due to a large number of people offering prayers. “We held a meeting, in which, members of the mandal having political connections assured us that they would cover the idol during the Namaaz. However, it is a sensitive matter. I have told the police that the masjid should not be held responsible if any anti-social elements try to take advantage of the situation,” Aamirullah said.

A member of the Ganesh mandal said an understanding was reached with the mutawalli in 2012, considering that Eid and the Ganesh festival usually do not coincide. However, the “rare occurrence” has left both sides in a fix. “We are unable to move the idol as per their demand because it is a ritual to install the idol at the exact spot for a period of five years before it can be shifted. This is the fourth year of installation and we will have to install it at the same place. We have already given them our word that during the Namaaz, we will ensure that the idol is not visible to the Muslims,” said the member. Police inspector R H Jadeja of Wadi, where Aamirullah’s application has been transferred for action, said, “We are trying to ensure that both communities resolve the issue by finding a middle path. We are unable to force the pandal organisers to move out. Also, Namaz is only a matter of a few hours in a day. We will hold meetings with both sides to make sure there is no trouble created from either side and deploy extra security in the area.”

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