Barabanki mosque demolition: UP Sunni Central Waqf Board to approach High Court

Samajwadi Party, and the Congress have condemned the mosque’s demolition and have demanded a judicial probe


Barabanki’s Ramsnehi Ghat mosque was demolished, despite a Allahabad High Court order that it be protected till May 31. While the district administration continues to maintain that the mosque was an “illegal construction”, it is on the records of the Sunni Central Waqf Board documents as ‘Tehsil Masjid’ for the last six decades, reports the BBC. Those in charge of the mosque told the media that it is even older, as the record books came into existence much later than the structure.

The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board has called the administration’s action illegal, and is likely to challenge it in the High Court, stated the news report. Known locally as the Ghraib Nawaz Mosque, and on the record books as the Tehsil Mosque, it stood in the Tehsil complex in Ramsnehi Ghat before it was demolished on Monday. The Ramasnehi Ghat tehsil complex, said the ground report, is right in front of the SDM residence, and the mosque is “registered as the property of the Waqf Board”. A fact that according to its management has never been disputed. However, according to media reports the Barabanki District Magistrate Adarsh Singh said “a notice” was issued to those concerned on March15,  and the administration took the mosque “under its control.”

The official statement was read out in a video posted on twitter handle of DM Barabanki. A quick translation of the ‘officialese’ states that, “In the case of the illegal structure in the Tehsil Residential Complex, the concerned parties were given an opportunity to respond to the notice on March 15,” adding that instead of responding “the people left the premises and fled.”

According to a news flash on social media both the Samajwadi Party, and the Congress have condemned the mosque’s demolition and have demanded a judicial probe. However, according to the DM, “A petition filed in this regard by the Lucknow bench of the Hon’ble High Court Allahabad on April 2, proves that the construction is illegal. On this basis, the suit was presented in the court of SDM Ramsanehi Ghat and then complied with its order on May 17.” According to the BBC, the mosque management committee had filed a petition in the High Court against the notice given in March, however, it is still pending. As reported earlier, the Allahabad High Court, on April 24 2021,  had ordered that no action be taken till May 31 on “any religious construction on government properties”. 

Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board Chairman Zafar Ahmed Farooqi told mediapersons that this demolition is thus “directly in violation of the High Court order and the board will soon challenge it in the High Court.” Farooqui was quoted by the BBC as saying, “The mosque was right in front of the SDM’s residence and perhaps they did not like it…” adding “The local committee had gone to the High Court, yet without giving any notice the SDM passed the order and the mosque was demolished” and asked what was great hurry for such an action. 

The Sunni Central Waqf Board stated that it will move High Court demanding “restoration of the mosque, a high level judicial inquiry and action against the guilty officials”. The reports quoted one Adnan Arif, a local resident of Ramsnehi Ghat who said, “The new tehsil complex was built in 1992, and only then the SDM house was built in front of this mosque. The old tehsil was behind the mosque. The mosque has been registered as Waqf Board property since 1968,” it was reported that the mosque has had an “electrical connection since 1959,” and prayers have been offered here every Friday, and even every day by many for decades.

Maulana Abdul Mustafa, a mosque committee member, told The Wire that the administration “demolished our century-old mosque. Thousands of people used to offer namaz(prayer) here.” But there is a backstory to the demolition which explains the relative ease with which this act of erasure – planned several months ago – was eventually accomplished.

On March 20, a day after protests broke out against the administration’s plan to demolish a mosque in Uttar Pradesh’s Barabanki, 180 people were booked under serious charges, including attempt to murder reported The Wire. All those named in the FIR are Muslim. The report shared details of FIR 89 – that names 22 people and charges another 150 “unnamed”. According to the news report around six additional FIRs were filed, and around 30 people are still in jail. The Barabanki police also arrested one Ishtiyaq alias Sonu in this case under the National Security Act (NSA) on April 11, reported The Wire. It quotes the police press release as saying, “On April 11, the administration took action against a dreaded criminal Mohammad Ishtiyaq, son of Mohammad Iliyas…who had attacked and attempted to murder police force on March 19.” 


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