In a bizarre turn of events, the All Dwarka Residents Federation (ADRF), Delhi has written to the Lt-Governor Anil Baijal, who is also chairperson of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), asking him to cancel the land allotment made for a Haj House in Sector 22. They have claimed that there is strong apprehension that this would disturb the “brotherhood, harmony and peace” in society.
The Federation’s letter goes on to say that if the Haj House is allowed to be constructed in the area, law and order will be disturbed, there will be “every possibility of riots”, migration of Hindus and “repetition of situation like Shaheen Bagh, Jaffrabad (reference to the North East Delhi violence last year) and Kashmir”.
The letter further contends that a Haj House is already operational at the Indira Gandhi Airport and can be further developed, if required. “Whereas, no such facility/space is available/allotted for Hindu Pilgrimages going to various religious places”, states the letter to Lt-Governor.
The Haj Manzil, to be constructed on 5,000 square metres of land in Dwarka, was reportedly approved in 2008 by the then Chief Minister Sheila Dixit. Since the new building has not been built yet, the Delhi State Haj Committee has been operating out of a rented building, Haj Manzil, in Rouse Avenue, near Turkman Gate.
SabrangIndia reached out to ADFR’s President Ajit Swami who revealed that the land cleared for the construction of the Haj building was earlier allotted to build a university. “If the government is allocating money, why not for something that can be used by every one and not just benefit one community?”, he remarked. He said that he is speaking on behalf of all residents of Dwarka, and that if a Haj House needs to be built, the Muslim community should pay for it from their own pockets instead of using every taxpayer’s money.
But this issue has not been raised in the letter, and instead the Federation has highlighted a “law and order” problem. When asked about the link between the Haj building and riots, Swami said that traffic and parking issues can lead to such violence. He said, “If a Haj house is built, several buses will enter Dwarka from Mewat, Chandigarh, and the traffic will create parking issues. This can subsequently lead to riots.” He said that tents will be pitched, kitchen services will be started for people, buses carrying Haj pilgrims will be parked in and around the area, that will definitely cause unwanted chaos.
He added that the Constitution lays down provisions against discrimination and that he is not against any religion. “I respect all religions, but I will definitely object if others get more. If a Haj needs to be built, Muslims should pay for it. We have no problem if the money is used to make hospitals, colleges that can be used by all. I am not wrong in bringing these issues up,” said Ajit Swami.
He also reiterated the same subject mentioned in the letter, that there is no need for a building in Dwarka, when the Indira Gandhi Airport provides for the same facility. “So many people will flock towards Delhi, the government will use the taxpayers’ money for the building’s maintenance, for electricity, for their food. Let the Haj house be situated only at the airport,” he added.
Reacting to the letter, human rights campaigner Shabnam Hashmi took to twitter calling out the federation’s “highly communal letter”, and demanding action against them.
While I have no interest in any Haj house being built here but how will it lead to riots ? ADRF is clearly spreading hatred against Muslims which is a criminal offence. Strongly condemn d highly communal content of this letter . Demand action against ADRF. pic.twitter.com/YTGGH028vE
— Shabnam Hashmi (@ShabnamHashmi) August 4, 2021