Exactly a week before Basant Panchami, thousands of Muslims offered namaz at Bhojshala-Kamal Maula’s mosque in Madhya Pradesh’s Dhar town on Friday, leaving the local administration worried.
The turnout was much more than usual and came a day after Hindu organisations boycotted a sadbhavana rally organised by the administration protesting that the majority community was not named in the appeal for peace. The right-wing activists argued that the appeal mentioned the minority community and it reflected the biased approach of the administration and the state BJP government.
The administration has made elaborate arrangements at the Bhojshala-Kamal Maula’s mosque to avoid a repeat of 2006 and 2013, when Dharma Jagaran Manch and Bhoj Utsav Samiti members refused to vacate the premises by 12.30 pm, forcing the police to use force and to ensure a symbolic namaz.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) allows Hindus to pray from sunrise to 12.30 pm and then from 3.30 pm till sunset and Muslims from 1 pm to 3 pm on every Basant Panchami. But this year, Hindu organisations have rejected the arrangement, warning that there will be either puja or namaz at the shrine on February 12 and not both.
“We will pray outside the shrine if we don’t get a commitment from Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan by February 11 that namaz will not be offered the whole day (on February 12),’’ DJM convener Gopal Sharma told The Indian Express.
On the huge turnout for Friday prayers, Sharma said the turnout included Muslims from neighbouring towns and villages. “They have asked their women to go elsewhere on that day (Basant Panchami). You know what’s coming,’’ he claimed.
Among those who offered prayers on Friday was Shahar Kazi Sadiq Waqar, who was missing ever since he was booked for sedition. Hindu organisations widely circulated his photograph, stating that it was “a slap on the administration’s face”. But a senior police officer said Kazi can’t be arrested till the outcome of the probe was known.