HENB | Dhar | Feb 3, 2016:: An 11th century monument has emerged as a religious flashpoint in Madhya Pradesh’s Dhar district days ahead of next month’s Basant Panchami with Hindus and Muslims vying to offer prayers at the disputed site that Friday.
Under an old arrangement mediated by district authorities, Hindus are allowed to pray at the Bhojshala complex from sunrise to sunset every Basant Panchami, while Muslims offer prayer at the site on Fridays.
But with the occasions overlapping on February 12, both sides are reluctant to give up their access to the site and the local administration is apprehensive of fresh trouble around what many call the state’s “mini Ayodhya”.
Sources say hard-line Hindu groups want to organise prayers throughout the day without allowing Muslims to offer their Friday namaaz.
The website of the Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) Bhopal Circle refers to the monument as the “Bhojshala and Kamal Maula’s Mosque”.
“It is believed that it was originally a temple of goddess Sarasvati built by Parawara King Bhoja in circa 11th Century AD,” the site says. “The mosque is built using structural members of the temple. The monument also retains some slabs inscribed with Sanskrit and Prakrit literary works. Noted as a great patron of art and literature, Bhoja is said to have established a school, now known as Bhojashala.”
Now, Hindu organisations have rejected the Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) proposed arrangement of letting both Hindus and Muslims pray at Bhojshala in Dhar town of Madhya Pradesh on Basant Panchami on February 12, saying the devotees will sit outside the disputed shrine if Friday prayers are allowed. Both the communities claim the Bhojshala-Kamal Maula Masjid as their own; the district administration is now bracing for a tense Basant Panchmi.
“Hindus will boycott the puja if they are not allowed uninterrupted access to the shrine from sunrise to sunset. Interrupted prayers are not auspicious. We hope something will happen by February 11,” Dharma Jagaran Manch convenor Gopal Sharma told The Indian Express on Tuesday. The ASI has said Hindus will be allowed to pray from sunrise to noon and then from 3.30 pm till sunset, while Muslims will be allowed to pray from 1 pm to 3 pm. In 2006 and 2013, similar arrangement had not worked because Hindu organisations had refused to clear the premises by the stipulated time, forcing the police to use force.
The Dharma Jagaran Manch’s talk of boycott has kept the administration on its toes because till recently its members had said Muslims should be asked to pray elsewhere for a day.