The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday, May 23 ordered authorities in Dahod to maintain the status quo on the land parcel where a century old Nagina Masjid stood. In the early hours of May 20 the administration had razed parts of the structure to the ground. The HC directed the municipality to follow “due process of law” reported The Indian Express..
In a petition moved by the Nagina Masjid Trust before Gujarat High Court the week before last, the Trust had pointed out that while notices under the Gujarat Municipalities Act were issued to nearby shops over alleged encroachment and these were demolished on May 15, the authorities also started demolishing other shops that were under the ownership of the petitioner Trust without due process and issuance of any notice.
The petitioners also stated that no official notice was issued to the Trust for the mosque demolition. They were only informally told by the authorities that the “petitioner and others may remove all the religious books, Quran and other revered articles from the Masjid till Friday (May 19) as the Masjid will be demolished after evening prayers”.
The Trust has submitted before the court that the mosque had been standing at the spot since 1926 in a part of the Trust’s land, which was registered in 1953. Some of the shops on other parts of the land – which have now been demolished – were given on rent by the Trust and Waqf over the years, the court was also told.
The Trust further also submitted proof that the mosque was “protected and could not be demolished, more particularly in view of provisions under the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991”, and given that the masjid is a Waqf property, no action could have been undertaken without the approval of the Waqf Board.
The court of Justice S V Pinto on Tuesday also issued notice to the authorities and sought that the Dahod authorities respond to the contentions raised in the petition by June 8, until when the authorities have been directed to maintain the status quo.
In another petition moved by Anjumane Mohammadi Jamat through its administrator and secretary Asgarali Ahmedali Rayli, it was contended by the petitioner that they apprehend demolition of another Mosque (masjid) although they have formally not been served with a notice by the Dahod authorities as is required under the Gujarat Municipalities Act. On Tuesday, Justice Pinto, after hearing both sides, disposed of the petition with an instruction to the government counsel that the petitioner be provided with an opportunity of a hearing before taking any coercive steps.
Justice Pinto directed the Dahod municipality to follow “due process of law and give an opportunity of hearing before taking any coercive actions and the petitioners must be allowed to put forward their case. The nagarpalika (municipality) shall give an opportunity of hearing to petitioners and give a reasoned order.”
May 20-21, 2023
A mosque, believed to be around a century old, was among eight places of worship razed Saturday by the Dahod Smart City administration in Gujarat. Amid huge police deployment, the massive demolition drive began at the Nagina Mosque around 4.30 a.m.
The mosque was razed under a Smart City road widening project after the Masjid Trust failed to get relief from the Gujarat High Court or produce land record documents on Friday, officials said. Hours after the mosque demolition, four temples and three other dargahs were also razed.
As a part of two-tier security arrangements, around 450 police personnel were deployed for the 4.30 am demolition. The mosque was “demolished in a peaceful and amicable” manner, officials added.
“The Trust had sought time on its own until Friday to produce land records. The administration conceded to the request. But on Friday, the records it brought were not reliable,” Dahod Superintendent of Police Balram Meena, who is part of the district-level panel for the implementation of the Smart City Project, told the IE.
“On Friday evening, a meeting was held between the mosque members with the sub-divisional magistrate, Prant Officer, and chief officer of the municipality, among others, where the Trust members agreed to evacuate the premises on being given the option to demolish the structure on their own. We did not have to enter the premises as they had already evacuated the structure. The police deployment will remain but we do not anticipate any trouble,” Meena added.