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Haryana mosques ‘demolitions’

The first story about the mosque demolition at Jharsa appeared in Amar Ujala on 12 November when the PWB registered an FIR against the culprits. Four days later (16 November) Dainik Jagaran, another Hindi paper published a statement by the village sarpanch claiming that he has been framed by the PWB. As usual, our reactive Urdu press was sleeping all the while. A full month later the Rashtriya Saharah Urdu daily published a report from Panipat on 12 December that four mosques have been demolished in Haryana by anti-social elements and that the police and local administration has failed to take any action. Next day (13 December) Delhi Urdu daily Awam picked up the news ostensibly from the Rashtriya Sahara but attributed it to the ‘Awam bureau in Chandigarh’. It gave a fixed date for demolition, 6 December being the anniversary of the Babri demolition. The headline shrieked: ‘Hansi mosque martyred by communalists on 6 December.’ The sub-headline was more clear: ‘A number of mosques in Haryana attacked as part of an organized conspiracy. Muslims in fear. Communalists’ high.’ The Awam news item said that ‘in various places’ in Haryana mosques were attacked, ‘a number of mosques erased and captured by BJP and RSS workers.’ Further on it said about the Hansi mosque" ‘the game played with the Babri mosque has been played here..’ It also quoted Haryana Muslims that the police is siding with the anti-socials in this matter. Next day (14 December) Awam followed it up with an editorial headlined: ‘Attacks on mosques.’ It claimed that in Haryana ‘in secrecy and organized way a number of mosques were attacked and a number of mosques were demolished and taken over by BJP and RSS workers. Further down it talked of the demolitions as ‘an organized conspiracy’ and went on to say that these incidents are ‘proof that the Sangh parivar has prepared a new strategy against the mosques in order to instigate communal hatred at village and town levels so that communalism is inflamed in the name of religion and the country is filled once again with the flames of hatred….The aim of these organizations is to infuriate Muslims so that they could be subjected to injustice.’ The editorial claimed that the Punjab Waqf Board mosques are being attacked at the instance of Ms Maneka Gandhi.’ Further on the editorial spoke of ‘utmost tension’ in Haryana due to the demolitions and linked it to the impending elections in Haryana!

Other Urdu papers followed suit and soon many Muslim organizations started issuing condemnation statements and warnings against the result of this conspiracy. No paper or organization bothered to send reporters or representatives to find out the facts: there was no organized activity, demolitions took place well before the ‘6 December’ anniversary, there was no trace of BJP or RSS elements wherever our reporters visited, there was no Muslim presence wherever such archeological monuments have been harmed. Such mosques had ceased to be used for prayers half a century ago.

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