Mob enters and tries to destroy historic Pirana Shrine in Gujarat

Over the years, local Muslims have made complaints about encroaching attempts to saffronise the shrine, which is overseen by a Trust composed of both Hindus and Muslims. The latest attempt by miscreants also features installations of idols at the shrine.

A mob of people has reportedly damaged graves and put up idols at the 600-year-old Imam Shah Baba shrine in Pirana, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, on the night of May 7th night, just shortly after the polling for the  18th Lok Sabha elections in Gujarat ended.

Reports allege that the destruction of the shrine and the installation of the idols at the site led to tensions in the area, with people throwing stones. Following this, the Ahmedabad Police have reportedly detained 37 people connected to this incident. Some policemen also gained minor injuries as they tried to control the incident. After the mob entered and damaged the shrine and graves, The Federal reported that the Muslim trustees and some worshippers opposed the violence as it broke out.

According to Maktoob Media, Azhar Saiyed, a local, stated “We objected to the razing of the graves and demanded restoration. The police officers assured us they will make the trustees rebuild the graves. They have been promising that since early morning, but there has been no action yet.”

Meanwhile, Ahmedabad SP Omprakash Jat has stated on May 8 to the media that the shrine is managed by a trust that has members of both Hindu and Muslim communities, “In the morning, we received information that the religious place was vandalised. A police team soon reached the spot and found that two groups were standing against each other and pelting stones. A few police personnel were also injured in the clash. Troublemakers from both sides have been detained. Strict action will be taken against the accused.” The shrine now has witnessed heavy deployment of the police force.

A right wing Hindutva group, as per The Federal, has in turn claimed that Muslims have destroyed the shrine.

The shrine in recent history

In August 2020, a Muslim trustee of the shrine had even complained to the authorities about the Hindu trustees and that images of deities were being newly placed at the shrine, and had asked the district authority’s intervention in this attempt to change the harmonious nature of the shrine. Over 2021 to 2022, several graves were also destroyed at the shrine. 

Just 25 kms from Ahmedabad city, the Pirana shrine in 2022 saw attempts to build a wall between the mosque and the shrine. This was seen as an attempt to infringe upon the shrine’s structure and separate the mosque from it by the locals. Due to such fears, hundreds of locals migrated from the area, according to a ground report by Sabrang India. Five hundred people were detained.

In September, 2023, the Gujarat High Court  rejected a PIL filed by the Sunni Awami Forum, a registered Waqf body and trust. The PIL had requested intervention from concerned authorities as they stated that there was an attempt at conversion of the historic Pirana shrine as well as other Muslim religious sites into Hindu places of worship in Pirana village near Ahmedabad city.

The court in turn dismissed the PIL, and stated that the petitioner was attempting to turn a property dispute into a communal matter.

Sabrang India has long since tracked the dispute over the shrine and has drawn attention to the fact that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has held the shrine on their agenda for a very long time.  In 2011, Citizens for Justice and Peace rallied against the attempts to create a communal atmosphere at the shrine by VHP.  The organisation had written a letter, signed by several activists, to NHRC, Dr. Kamla Beniwal, the then Governor of Gujarat, as well as  Chittaranjan Singh, the Director General of Police (DGP) of Gujarat at the time, to bring attention to the provocative attempts to stoke communal tension by such groups.



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