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Published in the 1-15 Nov 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Mosque encroached under UPA’s nose 

Palam is an old village in the outskirts of the Indian capital. Until recently Delhi airport used to be called “Palam Airport. Here in Palam Vihar, a new colony developed by Ansals, there is an old mosque in the laldora area of Chowma village which was deserted after 1947 as local Muslims migrated to Pakistan. This mosque was occupied by new settlers who converted into an animal shed. In early 1990s when the new colony was coming up, some Muslims, in order to have a place for worship, moved the Auqaf authorities and persuaded the occupiers to vacate the mosque. 

Palam mosque (before enchroachments)

Palam mosque (before encroachments)

Another view of the Palam mosque (before enchroachments)

Another view of the Palam mosque 
(before encroachments)

Due to long misuse and neglect, the condition of the mosque was pathetic and needed major repairs to make it suitable for prayers, though the mosque needed reconstruction as its outer walls have cracks and are seen from a distance. On Fridays people from DLF, Sushant Lok, Udyog Vihar, apart from the local population numbering more than five hundred souls, gathered and offered prayers here in two sessions due to lack of space. In the month of Ramadan besides Eidul Fitr and Idul Ad-ha, more than 1000 people came to prayers as this is the only mosque catering to all the areas within a radius of about four-to-eight kilometers. Very recently illegal construction has started coming up and an attempt was made to block the mosque’s entry door. The matter was referred to the district commissioner (revenue) of Gurgaon who got it stopped but the encroachments already made were not removed. Miscreants are trying to intimidate the occupant caretaker to be ready to face consequences if he stops them from further illegal constructions.

Apart from this the local Sarpanch has stopped the burial of dead in the local graveyard for reasons not known. This graveyard has been in use for decades. It could any day become a law and order problem when hundreds of people gather for congregation at the mosque and see the entrance blocked. In order to avoid such possible friction, the district authorities need to act quickly and earnestly to assuage the hurt feelings of the Muslim community. 

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