January 28, 2021 11:34:45 pm
A house that was used as a prayer hall by the Muslim community was allegedly vandalised and religious books were burnt by unidentified persons in Songadh town of Tapi district on Thursday.
Police registered a case in connection with the incident and deployed a large number of personnel in the area to prevent any untoward incidents.
According to police, miscreants allegedly broke into the house of Faruk Haveliwala, a tailoring shop owner and resident of Junagam in Songadh town, at Bapa Sitaram Nagar near Nagar Palika anganwadi, early on Thursday.
Haveliwala, who stays in Janagam, was informed about the incident by his friends Saiyed Imran and Abdul Hamaliya. He then went to the house and found the burnt pages of religious books. An almirah, clock and fan were also damaged.
After the news spread, members of the Muslim community from the area reached the spot, took videos and uploaded them on social media.
A police team led by district Superintendent of Police (SP) Sujata Majumdar reached the spot and conducted a preliminary investigation.
In his complaint lodged with Songadh police, Haveliwala said that he shifted to Janagam 15 years ago and his house at Bapa Sitaram Nagar was being used as a prayer hall since then by community members in the neighbourhood as the mosque in the area is far due to which elderly people faced problems.
For the past 10 years, around 39 families staying in the area have been using the house to offer prayers, the complainant said.
Haveliwala also named three suspects — Bhaga Bharwad, Shyambhai Marathi and Santhoshbhai — in his complaint. Police have registered a case under IPC sections 436 (committing mischief by fire or explosive substance, destroying a building ordinarily used as a place of worship, 447 (criminal trespass) ,153 (A) (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth etc) and 120 (B) (conspiracy).
Talking to The Indian Express, Haveliwala said, “Some people from the neighbourhood had objected to people offering namaz at my home as they suspected that a mosque will be constructed there. I had given them an assurance in writing that no mosque will be constructed at my place. The land belongs to the municipality.”
He said there were incidents of stone pelting at the house and that he had received threats over the past five years. “Now they have broken into the house and burnt our religious books, which is intolerable. We have requested the police to carry out a probe and punish the accused,” added Haveliwala.
The SP said, “We have assured the Muslim community of free and fair investigations as well as strict action against the accused. We have ensured police bandobast in the area and people are co-operating with us.”
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