By Faisal Fareed
A mound of mud at a village in Farrukhabad district of Uttar Pradesh has become a bone of contention between Hindus and Buddhists.
While Buddhists claim that Lord Buddha delivered sermons from the mound at Sankisa, an ancient cultural centre for Buddhism located in Basantpur village, some 50 km from district headquarters, Hindus say it is their religious place and point to a small temple of local deity Visari Devi there.
Both communities have clashed more than once over the issue. Local administration made an arrangement in which both communities can perform ritual at the site in shifts. A fence has been put up around the mound, which is under round-the-clock police protection. A ban has been imposed on raising inflammatory slogans.
“It is our religious site as Lord Buddha delivered his sermon on the mound in Sankisa. It is the eighth most important religious site for Buddhists across the world,” Karamveer Shakya, head of Sankisa Mukti Sangharsh Samiti, told The Indian Express.
The Samiti had filed a suit in civil court at Fatehgarh about four months ago for removal of the idol of Hindu deity. “I had moved the application. The court has issued notice to Hindus,” Shakya claimed.
However, the Hindus are unfazed. “Jaan dey saktey hain, jaan ley saktey hain, lekin mandir sthan nahi hatayengey (we can die and kill but we won’t let them remove the temple from the mound),” said Kuldeep Dixit, a local resident.
While there had been several skirmishes in the past, the situation has become tense with local Shakya and Jatav communities adopting Buddhism and boosting the strength of one side.