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30 km from Ayodhya, Dhannipur village gets new identity: Mosque site

A section, mostly the youth, question the need for a new mosque at a place which already has mosques. But others say it is connected to their faith, and that while they know the new mosque cannot be built at the site where the Babri Masjid stood once, the decision should be welcomed.

Written by Avaneesh Mishra | Ayodhya | Updated: February 7, 2020 7:18:41 am
30 km from Ayodhya, Dhannipur village gets new identity: Mosque site Site allotted for mosque at Dhannipur village. (Express Photo by Vishal Srivastav)

Dhannipur is some 30 km short of Ayodhya on the Lucknow-Gorakhpur highway. Until a day ago, most travelling on the highway hadn’t heard of it. But now, many are beginning to inquire.

Because this village near Raunahi has been identified by the government as the site for a mosque on five acres, far away from what was the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site until the Supreme Court decided the Ayodhya title suit in favour of the Hindu parties, paving the way for the construction of a Ram temple.

It is in Dhannipur that the Sunni Central Waqf Board is being provided five acres for a mosque, 200 metres from the highway. This is in line with the Supreme Court direction which, while underlining “justice, equity and good conscience”, said five acres should be allotted for construction of a mosque.

But in the village — Muslims make 60 percent of its inhabitants and the rest are mostly Yadavs — the government decision has led to mixed reactions. A section, mostly the youth, question the need for a new mosque at a place which already has mosques. But others say it is connected to their faith, and that while they know the new mosque cannot be built at the site where the Babri Masjid stood once, the decision should be welcomed.

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Village residents said there are at least three mosques in Dhannipur, and a dozen in neighbouring Raunahi town. (Express photo by Vishal Srivastav)

“The village and the surrounding Raunahi town already have more mosques than needed. Even during namaz, the mosques do not fill up. If the Supreme Court has decided that the government must provide land, and if it is only about land, then why not build an ITI or a college or a hospital? There is no ITI within a 25-km radius. We need good hospitals, not mosques,” said 34-year-old Shaban Khan who said he was an electrical engineer based in the US.

But 36-year-old Nafees Khan does not agree. “This is the land offered for the mosque and there should be a mosque here. We can always find more land for colleges and hospitals. This is a matter directly connected to our faith. We did not get land for a mosque at the original site and if we do not build a mosque here, we will forget there ever was a Babri Masjid which was demolished,” he said.

Village residents said there are at least three mosques in Dhannipur, and a dozen in neighbouring Raunahi town.

Mohammad Islam Khan (58) said the land identified belongs to the state agriculture department, used for growing wheat and rice. In the middle of the wheat field is the shrine of Shahgada Shah. Khan said an inscription on a stone inside suggests it is centuries old.

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In the village — Muslims make 60 percent of its inhabitants and the rest are mostly Yadavs — the government decision has led to mixed reactions. (Express photo by Vishal Srivastav)

A senior district administration official told The Indian Express that the mosque will be built without touching the shrine. He said this was the best possible land they could have provided for the construction of the mosque.

“The land belongs to the agriculture department. Five acres of the land will be given to the Muslim side. There is a shrine in the middle and that has been left out. We had shortlisted several places, but we had to take several points into consideration. Keeping in mind the history and the future, it would not have been a good idea to provide land somewhere near the Ram Janmabhoomi or on the Parikrama Marg. We have just got out of one controversy and we do not want to go back to it again. That is the reason that this land was decided upon,” the official said.

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