Mosque Row: Hindu Activists Defy Restrictions, Chant 'Bhajans' in Karnataka's Srirangapatna
Mandya (K'taka): Amid heightened security arrangements, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists staged a demonstration in Srirangapatna town of the district here, demanding the Jamia mosque be returned to Hindus claiming that it was a Hanuman temple razed by the 18th century ruler Tipu Sultan.
Defying prohibitory orders imposed in the temple town under Section 144 of the CrPC to prevent any untoward incident, a large number of Hindu activists took out a motorcycle rally heeding the call of VHP's 'Srirangapatna Chalo' campaign.
Wearing saffron scarves, turbans and saffron flags, the activists raising 'Jai Sri Ram' slogans. The activists recited 'Hanuman Chalisa' and 'Ram Bhajan' at a nearby temple.
According to the police, the protesters were barred from marching toward the mosque. No untoward incidents were reported in the town.
Earlier in the day, Sriram Sena chief Pramod Muthalik condemned the ruling BJP government for imposing restrictions in the town.
A Bajrang Dal activist from here, Manjunath, who was part of the agitation, claimed while talking to PTI that the mosque was a Hanuman temple with its gopuram (temple tower) razed by Tipu Sultan and it got converted into Jamia Masjid in Srirangapatna, which was the capital of the ruler of Mysore Kingdom.
"The mosque is an Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) protected monument where no one should stay as per rule. However, nearly 100 people, including some Bangladeshis, reside there, and a Madrassa (Islamic seminary) also operates there, which is against the law," the activist claimed.
"Tragically, the ASI and the district administration are silent on these blatant violations," he said.
He further said the right-wing organisations will approach the Karnataka High Court seeking a direction to the authorities to hand over the mosque to the Hindus.
Officials reached the spot and assured the agitators that their grievances will be communicated to the ASI.
In order to avoid any untoward incident, the district police force and contingents of Karnataka State Reserved Police were deployed. The roads were barricaded and security pickets were erected in the town.
Fearing a backlash, many shopkeepers around the shrine downed shutters for the day.
The members of fringe Hindu outfits had called for a protest march to the mosque but the authorities denied them permission.
The Sriram Sena chief Pramod Muthalik condemned the restrictions saying they should be imposed on 'them'.
"There is a Ganapati temple, a temple tank and a well inside the mosque. Despite all these, mosques running Madrassas and offering namaz there is wrong. It is 'they' who should be stopped. They should be thrown out. I condemn the BJP government, which is trying to stop our protest," Muthalik told reporters in Kalaburagi on Saturday.
The right-wing organisations have been claiming that the Jamia mosque was a Hanuman temple, which Tipu Sultan had destroyed to build a mosque in its place.
The outfits have submitted a memorandum to the district authorities seeking a survey of the mosque and take steps to return the 'Anjaneya Temple' to Hindus if their claim was found to be true.
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