Bengaluru: In spite of State going through phases of social unrest, different parts of the state witnessing revenge killings, stabbing incidents, the capital city Bengaluru remained untouched by the disturbing happenings. However, the row over the Idgah Maidan in Bengaluru is threatening to derail law and order in the city known as the Silicon Valley of India.
The legal fight is over Idgah Maidan, a 2.5 acre plot of land in Chamarajpet locality of Bengaluru, between the Wakf Board and the Revenue Department. Hindu activists are demanding permission to celebrate the Ganesh Utsav at the Maidan.
BJP national general secretary C T Ravi has stated that if namaz is allowed, the Ganesh festival celebrations should also be allowed there. The Chamarajpet Citizens’ Forum, which is waging a legal battle and agitating for years, is adamant to celebrate the Ganesh festival there.
The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has handed over the property to the Revenue Department. The Wakf Board is claiming that the decision of the BBMP is against the ruling of the Supreme Court and obtained a status quo order from the Karnataka High Court.
Patapat Srinivas, an activist associated with the Chamarajpet Citizens’ Forum, told IANS that there can be no compromise on the celebration of the Ganesh festival at the Idgah Maidan. “The legal fight will continue, we should not have any problem worshipping our God,” he says.
When asked about the possibility of violence, Srinivas said that since the 1964 court order permitting namaz at the site, no Hindu activist has caused any trouble till date. There should not be any trouble if the Ganesh festival is celebrated at the site.
A Karnataka High Court bench headed by Justice Hemanth Chandan Goudar has clearly asked the Advocate General not to let the controversy go the way of the Hubballi Idgah Maidan dispute, which resulted in police firing.
Five persons were killed and hundreds injured in the Hubballi police firing in 1994. The incident had resulted in large-scale violence across the state.
Srinivas said that the Wakf Board is claiming the property over a gazette notification of 1965, which does not specify a survey number and boundaries. The Supreme Court had asked the Wakf Board to approach the local court over the rights of property. The BBMP had given sufficient time to the Wakf Board to submit the relevant documents and get the property in its name. However, the Wakf Board has failed to produce the documents.
The High Court is taking up the issue on September 23. The Chamarajpet Citizens’ Association has declared that if not inside the premises, they will install the Ganesh idol outside the boundary of Idgah Maidan. The Bengaluru Urban District Commissioner has made it clear that the status quo order of the court will be implemented with the help of the police.
An activist Shruthi Marulaiah maintained that all this is politically motivated, with an eye on the assembly elections in 2023.
“The ruling party is trying to set the narrative on a communal basis. The Opposition is fuelling it. Idgah is not a burning issue – what has to happen constitutionally, has to happen and legislators should see to it. Instead they are making a mountain out of a molehill.
“The real issues concerning Kannadigas are the GST dues, people are suffering due to floods in many parts, malnutrition among children, neighbouring state claiming a stake in Raichur district of the state, the rampant corruption in the government. The Opposition has to take up such issues instead of getting trapped into this narrative,” Shruthi added.
The ruling BJP is treading cautiously on the Idgah Maidan row. After hoisting the national flag at Bengaluru Idgah Maidan, the BJP government is adopting a restrained approach towards the celebration of Hindu festivals.
By M.K. Ashoka