Three days before Basant Panchami, Hindu outfits kept the administration on tenterhooks by praying outside the disputed Bhojshala-Kamal Maula’s mosque in Dhar town Tuesday. This was the first time since 2003 that prayers were offered outside.
The Dharma Jagran Manch (DJM), which is leading the campaign, said Tuesday’s ‘satyagrah’ outside the shrine was in protest against the administration’s refusal to relax security measures. The DJM had asked the administration to reduce the barricading, remove barricades on the roof and ensure that devotees were spared the circuitous route to return to the place meant for keeping their footwear.
“The administration did not agree to our demand so we shifted the event outside for the first time in 13 years. If the administration and the government allow namaz on Basant Panchami we will not enter the shrine at all on February 12,’’ DJM convener Gopal Sharma told The Indian Express.
Earlier, a massive mobilisation by right-wing organisations had ensured access for the Hindus to the shrine on Tuesdays in addition to the Basant Panchami festival.
BJP MP from Dhar, Savitri Thakur, took part in the ‘satyagrah’, a day after she took party in a massive mobilisation rally. “There is only one Saraswati temple but there are several mosques in Dhar. Let them pray elsewhere on Friday; Basant Panchami puja can’t be interrupted, she said.
In January, Thakur had arranged a meeting between Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism Mahesh Sharma and a delegation of the DJM in Delhi after which the activists had claimed that they were hoping for a permanent resolution of the dispute.
The MP said she had asked the district magistrate to agree to DJM’s demands. DJM said Hindus will offer prayers outside the shrine Friday if the administration does not inform them in advance about its stand on the namaz. The administration has made it clear that it will ensure puja and namaz on Friday in keeping with the Archaeological Survey of India’s arrangement that allows Friday namaz between 1 pm and 3 pm and puja from sunrise to 12.30 and from 3.30 to sunset.
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