Tension prevailed at a village in Vadodra district of Gujarat on Wednesday over shifting of a dargah located on a highway in compliance with a high court order. The order directs that the popular Hazrat Balapir Ghadiyali Dargah on National Highway no 8 be cleared from the road by shifting it a few metres away, letting the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) widen the road .
A faction of Muslim priests from Vadodara, however, has objected to the shifting of the dargah revered by Muslims and Hindus alike. A large group of people gathered at the dargah early on Wednesday morning after news of ‘damage’ to the revered mazaar of Ghadiyali Baba spread.
The issue pertains to the widening of the highway, undertaken by the NHAI since last year. In February this year, NHAI served a notice to the dargah for its demolition and relocation to a new place. The notice was challenged by a fourth generation Hindu caretaker of the dargah, Manoj Hari Patel, who petitioned a local Vadodara court to consider the fact that the mazaar was revered and could not be demolished.
When Patel’s petition was rejected, he moved the High Court, which also ruled in favour of the NHAI, following a Supreme Court guideline that directs clearance of all structures obstructing highway widening projects. Patel had urged the court to allow it to be shifted to a location close by. The Gujarat High Court had granted time to the dargah until July 30 to demolish its structure and shift a few metres away from the proposed highway extension.
However, as Patel, along with others began shifting the dargah on the intervening night of Wednesday, some angry locals gathered to stop the shifting, leading to tension in the area.
Syed Rashid Bapu of Vadodara, said, “This is a malicious act by someone wanting to vitiate the peaceful environment. A structure resembling the tomb has come up overnight, secretly. The idea was to make unsuspecting locals believe in some kind of magic. Had the locals not seen what was happening here last night, the people would have cleared the dargah without trace.”
Vadodara Superintendent of Police, Sharad Singhal said the factional war within the Muslim community had led to the tension. Singhal told The Indian Express, “A section of Muslims from Vadodara, led by a revered priest, has refused to accept Patel’s theory that a dargah can be shifted as it is essentially a burial place.
The Ghadiyali Dargah is known for being adorned with clocks, offered to the shrine by devotees. The dargah, which was built about 150 years ago, according to Patel’s petition before the court, followed the tradition of accepting clocks as offerings after the passing away of the patron Balapir Baba as he believed in “time”.