September 15, 20200

The place of worship for Muslims was destroyed and its debris was thrown into the nearby pond which has been a source of drinking water for centuries

NEW DELHI – A 500-year-old mosque was demolished in Uttar Pradesh’s Mahoba city after a campaign launched by members of Bajrang Dal, a militant youth wing of the Vishva Hindu Parishad, against the shrine on the Kanpur-Sagar Highway.

A report in a Hindi news website said Madina Masjid was brought down in the dead of night on 5 August when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was laying the foundation stone for a Ram temple at the land where the Babri Masjid once stood in Ayodhya.

The place of worship for Muslims was destroyed and its debris was thrown into the nearby pond which has been a source of drinking water for centuries.

Muslims living in those areas said that according to the National Highway rules, the encroachments on a 75-feet piece of land from both sides of the highway were removed. The mosque fell on some part of the highway in the ongoing expanding works of the road. PWD officials said that 8 feet of the mosque land fell on the highway’s area but wanted a 10-feet land. The mosque caretakers were, however, ready to give 11 feet of land in order to sort out the issue. Yet, some part of the mosque remained.

On 3 August, some administrative officials–Ramsuresh Verma, Rajesh Kumar Yadav, Jatashankar and Balkrishna Singh–along with the engineers working for the National Highway 86 went to the mosque to talk about the remaining part of the mosque.

The mosque caretaker Sayeed Lambardar had asked the administration for some time so that they could adjust their mosque according to the marks made by the engineers. However, the administration completely removed the mosque quietly at 2 am on 5 August.

When the SSP Virendra Kumar was asked about it, he refused to give any information regarding the disappearance of the mosque. However, he asked the reporter why she was asking about it when no other journalist was interested in covering the incident. When the reporter insisted on knowing about the demolished mosque, he said that he had no information about it and he would not talk about it.

“You must be mistaken, madam,” a young policeman told a reporter when she reached there early on 6 August. “Yahaan koi masjid nahi thi. Galat fehmi hai” (There was no mosque here. Must be a misunderstanding)

After the mosque was razed, police forces were deployed at the site. The shops adjacent to the razed mosque were closed and the area looked a desolate place, and there was no one around except the police.

A week before the Medina mosque disappeared, a temple half a kilometre away on the National Highway was also partially demolished for the same reason.

In villages and towns along this stretch of NH 86, the Bajrang Dal reportedly ran a social media campaign, largely over Facebook, to bring down the mosque, just as part of the temple was dismantled. They had given the ultimatum to the local administration to demolish the mosque before 5 August. They said that if the mosque was not razed to the ground, they would step up their agitation.

“If the Medina mosque is not gone by 5 August, all of Hindu society will start a big protest,” read a post from some Satyendra Pratap.

According to local people, the Medina mosque could be around 500 years old. ButHindutva organisations claim it is no older than 50 or 60 years. It was a larger, grander structure, before half of it was razed the first time the highway was constructed more than a decade ago.