Friday, June 3, 2011

A pious deed gone awry

The man who renovated temple is facing harassment


The irony is stark: an action that should have strengthened communal harmony has become a communal issue itself. A Muslim renovated a temple (which was in ruins) on a piece of land bought by him and a Bajrang Dal activist dispossessed him of the entire land – allegedly with the support of some officials and politicians -- and the issue has acquired communal overtones in a peaceful village where none existed ever. 

Saleem Khan, a resident of Doraha village of Sehore district, about 30 km from the State capital, bought a piece of land in 2008 in the same village and within that land there was an temple in ruins, a mazaar and a house. He later renovated the temple. But ever since he bought that pious land, he is in trouble and now nothing is in his possession. He can’t even step upon his land owing to the dispute.

“The person, Manohar Yadav, who has got illegal possession of my land, also has police record. He and his accomplices cannot digest the fact that a Muslim can build a temple. The whole system is against me and my community here nowadays. Earlier, we all lived in peace and harmony but some hardliners have given the entire issue a communal and political colour”, rues Khan.
He claimed that Yadav had nothing to do with the land but the backing of police has emboldened him.
Khan brought this land from Ramgopal in 2008 and he renovated the temple and even appointed a priest in the Mandir, who was later removed by Yadav, who is also up-sarpanch of the village.

“I want communal harmony like the past. We are all brothers in this village. I had even said that I will give possession of that pious land to any Hindu Bhai, who respects both the religions”, Khan further said.

“Gaun ke sab Hindu bhai jisko kahenge mein vo zameen de doonga par Manohar aur uske saathiyo ko, jo gaun mein dharm ke naam tension paidaa karte aye hain, unhe nahin doonga”, he added.  

When told that some administrative officials and police of the district claim that he bought the land illegally from Ramgopal, Khan said, “Agar sare adhikarion se saamne Ramayan pe haath rakh ke kah Ramgopal kah de ki meine zabardasti zameen khareedi ya usne mujhe zameen nahin bechi, to zameen ko chhod doonga aur kabhi court kachehri nahin jaounga”.

A high-level administrative official, who was posted in Sehore in 2008, said, requesting anonymity, that since the Sarpanch of the village is Muslim and has got a secular image, he has influence among both the Hindus and Muslims of the area, which has caused trouble to some senior politicians of the district. A politician’s vote bank has been badly affected due to this and therefore he did not like Khan, he added
The officer further said that in 2008 he went through the case and tried to resolve the issue.

“One fact is crystal clear that the intentions of Manohar Yadav were not good. He is a narrow-minded person and has got parochial views”, he added. 
Khan has also lodged a complaint with the police and even came to the public hearing in Bhopal about the illegal procession of the building and the land. The DIG has ordered an inquiry in the issue under SDOP Shiv Kumar Verma. Khan also knocked the door of the Madhya Pradesh Human Rights Commission over the issue.

SDOP Verma said that the matter is under investigation and it is basically a land dispute and nothing else. He further said that both the parties are trying to hold the land. “The image of Saleem Khan is also not clean. Cases under IPC have been registered against him with the Doraha police. Let the investigation complete and then only I will able to say anything”.

Khan, on the other hand, said that before 2008, not a single case was registered against him in any police station. When TI Doraha was asked about the cases registered against Khan before 2008, he said, “I will not give any information on telephone. Ask the superintendent   of police or SDOP”.

The SDOP said that he has no information about the cases registered against Khan before 2008.

(Ritesh Mishra is a writer journalist. Just now working at Free Press as a corespondent on Committees, Commissions Boards and WCR beat,  he is also an active member of 'Yuva Samvad' )   

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