Tension gripped the communally sensitive Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh after members of the Hindu outfits threatened to install an idol of Lord Krishna in the Shahi Idgah Masjid on December 6, the anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition.
Following the announcement, security has been stepped up in Mathura. The Mathura district administration has imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, warning they would strictly deal with those indulging in spreading rumours and vitiating the state's law and order.
"We have come to know from social media platforms that some organisations are trying to organise an event or foot march to Shahi Idgah Masjid on December 6. Neither anyone has sought permission for any such event at Shahi Eidgah, nor has any such permission been given to any individual or organisation. Strict action will be taken against those found indulging in rumour-mongering or trying to disrupt the peaceful atmosphere of the town," SSP D Gaurav Grover told reporters.
Meanwhile, in an exercise aimed at reinforcing public confidence in law and order machinery, the police on Tuesday carried out a flag march led by the SSP along with police officials in the Govindnagar area where Shahi Idgah is situated.
On November 16, a Hindu outfit —the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM)- announced that it would install an idol of Lord Krishna at the deity's "actual birthplace", which it claims is in the Shahi Idgah Masjid close to the Katra Keshav Dev temple, a prominent temple in Mathura city.
Rajyashri Choudhary, the ABHM national president, said the idol would be installed after a "maha Jal Abhishek" (offering of water as ritual) on December 6 to "purify" the place.
The date picked by the right-wing organisation marks the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992, the site of a temple-mosque dispute.
The Mahasabha threat to perform the ritual inside the Shahi Idgah Masjid comes when the local courts are hearing a series of petitions seeking the "removal" of the 17th-century mosque, close to the Katra Keshav Dev temple.
The clampdown comes even as another right-wing organisation, the Narayani Sena, has said it will take out a march from Vishram Ghat to Sri Krishna Janmasthan, demanding the "removal" of the mosque.
Police said they had detained Narayani Sena secretary Amit Mishra in Mathura Kotwali, while the outfit claimed its national president Manish Yadav had been detained in Lucknow.
There is a dispute over the land on which the Eidgah and Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi are located side by side in Mathura. Various litigations are on in the civil courts of Mathura by Hindu organisations and individuals who allege that the Eidgah was built after the demolition of a temple by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb at the site where Lord Krishna was born.
Commenting over the controversy, Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a senior journalist and author based in Delhi whose latest book, The Demolition and The Verdict: Ayodhya & the Project to Reconfigure India, has just been published, said, "It's part of Bharatiya Janata Party narrative, and it is in their agenda too. They are doing it for the sake of electoral growth as there is no other tool to mobilise majority voters. After more than seven years in power, they (the government) have nothing to show that benefited the people's lives. UP CM Yogi Adityanath talks about 'Jinnah, abba jaan' while Home Minister Amit Shah brought roads are being blocked for namaz. They have started a vilification campaign against Muslims. This merely shows that so-called reclamation of Muslim places of worship will be an incessant campaign," he told NewsClick.
As the Hindu outfits step up their Krishna Janmabhoomi campaign, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya on Wednesday tweeted, echoing the same demand.
"Ayodhya Kashi bhavya mandir nirmaan jaari hai, Mathura ki taiyaari hai (construction of grand temples in Ayodhya and Kashi are underway, preparations for Mathura is also on)" said Maurya.
'MUSLIMS LIVING IN ATMOSPHERE OF FEAR'
The local Muslim activists claimed that Muslim areas, especially rural areas belonging to weaker sections of the community, have been living in an atmosphere of fear ever since the multiple Hindu outfits announced to install an idol of Lord Krishna in the Shahi Idgah on December 6.
"Muslims want to forget the mosque and temple debate, but the divisive campaign by Hindu groups makes us anxious. After Hindu outfit threatened to install Lord Krishna idol in Mathura last week and bike rally was organised in Agra by its workers to mobilise people to participate in the event, there is a palpable sense of anxiety among Muslims in the region," a social activist on the condition of anonymity told NewsClick, adding that several rallies were organised by Hindu activists in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and other parts of the country in the name of a campaign to collect fund for Ram Temple in Ayodhya and shouted provocative slogans to incite people.
However, Zed Hasan, president of Shahi Masjid Idgah and secretary of Shahi Jama Masjid, Mathura, said that there is no fear among the Muslim community so far, and the administration is very weak actively monitoring the situation round the clock.
"I have been here in Mathura for the last 50 years and found the city a peace-loving and people believe in brotherhood. I have never encountered any such temple-mosque controversy. In Mathura and Vrindavan, Radha ki chunri is stitched by Muslim women and Thakur (Lord Krishna) ka mukut by Muslim men. Brotherhood and communal harmony are so evident here that both Hindu and Muslims celebrate festivals together for centuries. There is a need to strengthen the bond of togetherness between the two communities," he told NewsClick.
When asked about the "hate campaign" and vilification against minorities increased in the five years, and the sense of fear among Muslims, Hasan said, "All common people understand that such provocative slogans, campaign on Twitter by political leaders are just for the sake of election gimmick. We all want love and peace in the society and won't respond with hate," he further added.
Political analyst Ramesh Kumar, based in western Uttar Pradesh, said that the move by right-wing groups comes when the 29th anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition is just four days away.
"After Ram Temple in Ayodhya, the saffron party has now shifted its focus to the Krishna Janmabhoomi Temple in Mathura and Kashi in Varanasi to woo the Hindu community to retain the power in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. They understand clearly that there is nothing to show as their achievements in the last five years despite inaugurating expressways and development projects. Therefore, they will raise Kashi and Mathura in the upcoming elections," he told NewsClick.
It should mention, a civil court in Mathura dismissed a suit last year seeking the removal of the Shahi Idgah Masjid adjacent to the Katra Keshav Dev Temple in Mathura, observing that if every devotee of Lord Krishna were allowed to institute such suits, it would jeopardise the judicial and social system of the country.
Meanwhile, the local court is hearing multiple petitions seeking "removal" of 17th century Shahi Idgah mosque.