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Babri repeat: Rajasthan mosque demolished
By Zafarul-Islam Khan

In a repeat action of the Babri Mosque demolition a decade ago, extremists pulled down an ancient mosque of the Mughal era on 29 July and built in its place a Hindu temple in record time. Area administration failed to stop the demolition and sat on the news fearing a communal flareup. It was only two days later that people came to know of this development through The Hindu.

According to The Hindu, the incident occurred at Asind in the district of Bhilwara when Masjid Swai Bhoj was demolished. The mosque was built by the army of the Mughal emperor Akbar which stayed in the area on its way back from a campaign in Chittorgarh in the 16th century AD. It was a 'Qalandari' type mosque which is roof-less with a wall towards the Ka'ba and three minarets. Like many other ancient mosques, this too was administered by the Waqf Board of Rajasthan, an official body taking care of Muslim Waqf properties in the state.

The Mosque was situated near a mazar called 'Badia dargah'. A Hindu temple, Swai Bhoj Mandir, is also situated nearby. According to the report, the passage to the mazar passes through this temple's property. This year they stopped Muslims from using this passage, so they had to go to the mazar through a river. But the problems did not stop there. When Muslims pitched tents next to the mazar for functions, Hindus objected. Finally on 29 July a mob of 300 persons burnt down the tents and erased the mosque from the face of the earth and in no time erected a temple on the site, complete with a marble platform - a replay of Babri nine years ago. All this happened while a company of policemen sent to protect the mazar simply watched.. It is clear that burning the tents and demolishing the mosque by such a large number of people was not spontaneous. To rub salt in the wounds, the temple has been named as 'Mandir Peer Pachaar Hanumanji' (temple of Hanuman who defeated the (Muslim) saint).

News of the sacrilege reached Jaipur, capital of Rajasthan, when a Muslim from the area came to lodge a complaint with the Waqf Board whose secretary, Nasir Ali Naqvi, charged that the district authorities have been negligent in dealing with the situation. 'The way the idol was kept ready for installation and the speed with which the marble platform was built indicates that the demolition had been planned in advance', he said. Meanwhile the idol has been removed but the temple building stands on the site of the mosque. According to latest reports, under a compromise formula brokered by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, the Rajasthan Waqf Board has been authorized to settle the issue within a week starting from 7 August.

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