Tuesday, Sep 27, 2022

Ballabhgarh: Before violence, court ruled Mosque land Muslim property

Violence swept the village on May 26, as 2,000 heavily armed men set on fire several Muslim homes and shops in an hour-long rampage.

ballabhgarh, ballabhgarh riots, ballabhgarh news, ballabhgarh violence, delhi news, Delhi communal riots, muslim riots, atali riota, india news Villagers at the Ballabhgarh police station. (Source: Express Photo by Gajendra Yadav)

Less than two months before communal violence erupted in Atali village in Ballabhgarh, a Faridabad court had ruled that the Hindu petitioners had “miserably failed” to establish that the mosque at the centre of the dispute stood on land owned by the gram panchayat.

Violence swept the village on May 26, as 2,000 heavily armed men set on fire several Muslim homes and shops in an hour-long rampage. Fifteen people were injured. Some 150 terrified Muslim villagers have been camping at Ballabhgarh police station ever since.


Atali village residents Satish Kumar, 43, and Yogender, 31, had sought “relief of declaration that the gram panchayat… is absolute owner” of the disputed property, and that the “present possession by Muslims was illegal, null and void”. Muslims claim the land belongs to the Waqf Board. The Jats had approached the court arguing that the panchayat was the owner, and that Muslims had got the land for a graveyard, not a mosque.

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On March 31, civil judge Vinay Sharma ruled that after a “close scrutiny” of the case, the “inevitable conclusion” was that the disputed property “has always been in possession of the Muslim community”. The order noted that “though the plaintiffs… have tried to establish that the suit property vests in the Gram Panchayat, but they have miserably failed to do so.”

The Atali panchayat then approached the SDM and obtained a stay on the construction of the mosque. Earlier in May, a district revenue office team from Chandigarh came to Ballabhgarh to investigate the matter and submitted a report, following which the SDM allowed the Muslims to resume construction. It began a week ago, and the violence followed.

The Muslims submitted that the land belonged to the Haryana Waqf Board, and produced a gazette notification dated November 21, 1970 that said the land was “reserved as Kabristan”. Records submitted during the trial showed the electricity connection was “in the name of Jama Masjid, Atali”. Counsel for the defendants argued that “Muslim inhabitants of the village offer their prayers in [a] tin shed [at the disputed site] since the time of their forefathers”.

The petitioners argued that the disputed property couldn’t be vested with the Waqf Board since “in the revenue record, the panchayat has been shown as owner” of the site, and that between 2004 and 2006, the panchayat had constructed a community hall there “with its own funds”.


Former sarpanch Daya Ram testified that during his tenure from 2005 and 2010, the panchayat had passed a resolution and constructed a chaupal at the site with its own funds, and that “there doesn’t exist anything in the said property”. His cross examination, however, revealed that at the site “exists a tin shed”, where Muslims offer prayers, and that the community hall had been “constructed exclusively for the Muslim community”.

The court noted that “there is not merit in the submissions made by the plaintiff”, and with the Gazette notification being “conclusive proof”. It added that a civil court could not decide the question of whether a property belonged to the Waqf Board.

The court added that barring two entries, “for continuous fifty years” the property has “been shown as Gair Mumkin Kabristan and is in possession of the Muslim community”. After perusing the jama bandis, or land records, of the period from 1954-55 to 2005-2006, the court said it was “compulsive to draw an inference that the nature of the suit property has always been Gair Mumkin Kabristan”.

First published on: 31-05-2015 at 02:08:24 am
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