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Tripura: Communal Tension Brews in Chandrapur Dimatali, Dispute Over Place of Worship

Locals wrote to administration, alleging after BJP took over in 2018, right-wing groups started calling the mosque-like structure an old temple dedicated to Lord Jagannath.
Tripura: Communal Tension Brews in Chandrapur Dimatali, Dispute Over Place of Worship

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New Delhi: Tensions escalated in the Chandrapur Dimatali area of the Rajnagar assembly constituency, South Tripura District, as Hindus and Muslims found themselves at odds over a disputed structure that both communities claim as a place of worship. According to a report published in the EastMojo, the situation reached a boiling point just before a three-day annual festival, prompting the police to cordon off the old building.

SDPO Belonia Abhijit Das shed light on the issue and told EastMojo, “The structure in question remained abandoned all throughout the year. Only on the occasion of the annual festival, when a large fair took place inside the premises of the building, did people from both communities throng to the place." He added, "The Muslims offer prayers following their rituals for three days; otherwise, no one goes there to offer Namaz." According to Das, the problem was resolved at the conclusion of the festival.

Contrary to the police's account, locals, in letters to the administration, claimed that right-wing organisations, post the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government takeover in 2018, began referring to the structure resembling a mosque as an old temple dedicated to Lord Jagannath.

Chief Minister Dr Manik Saha, while inaugurating the three-day festival on December 10, received a demand draft from Hindu Jagaran Mancha activists, urging his intervention to renovate the alleged old shrine of Lord Jagannath. Despite only 27 Muslim families residing in the village, people from all communities visit the structure for prayers.

To prevent potential communal tension, the police intervened and sealed off the structure. The Muslim community subsequently wrote a letter to the Block Development Officer (BDO), Rajnagar RD Block, and the District Magistrate of South Tripura, requesting the restoration of their right to offer Namaz inside the mosque.

The letter, dated December 3, 2023, detailed a decision by the fair's organising committee to prohibit Muslims from offering Namaz during the event. It warned of organising religious rituals by the Hindu community if the directive was violated.

Opposition parties, including the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) and Congress, expressed concern and urged Chief Minister Dr Manik Saha to stand with the minority community. CPI(M) state secretary and MLA Jitendra Choudhury emphasised the apparent attempt to create a communal divide.

Tripura Pradesh Congress Committee President Asish Kumar Saha echoed these concerns and called on the state government to act impartially.

State-level BJP leaders declined to comment on the issue. Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, President of Rajnagar assembly constituency Bhajan Das, stated, "The matter is that there is a dispute over the ownership of the land and the structure constructed there. As far as I understand, these issues should be settled legally, and whoever gets the ownership should be allowed to perform their religious rituals at the place."

Despite the political wrangling, locals from Belonia and adjoining areas view the disputed spot as a place of religious importance, emphasising its significance for both Hindu and Muslim communities.

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