The Allahabad High Court had ordered in 1964 that no public mosque existed at the disputed land bought by the Guru Singh Sabha gurdwara in Saharanpur, for further construction, which led to riots in this Uttar Pradesh city last Saturday.
Muharram Ali Pappu, a former Congress councillor was arrested on Wednesday by the local police as the main conspirator in the riots, which took the lives of three people. The city magistrate had given an adverse report against him as the one instigating the trouble over the disputed land in 2011, a copy of which is with The SundayGuardian.
According to an order passed by a Saharanpur court on15 May last year, while due debts were being recovered from the original owner of the disputed property, some persons claimed that a public mosque existed at the site and filed a petition before a special district judge, which was dismissed. “Against the said order a petition was filed before the honourable High Court and the court made it clear via its order dated 01-09-1964 that no public mosque existed at the disputed site. That order is the final order. No appeal has been made against it,” said the order. The Sunday Guardian has a copy of the order.
The order added that at present, no mosque has been found at the disputed property nor was namaaz being offered by anyone. The order mentioned that false claims had been made about the presence of a public mosque at the site.
“Hence it is proved that according to available evidence as per the petitions neither did any public property form part of the disputed property nor was it in use,” said the order.
The case (no. 744/10) was fought between Gurnam Singh Sahni, general secretary of the Guru Singh Sabha gurdwara committee and one Abdul Wahab, apparently the mutawalli of the mosque.
The report by the city magistrate earlier stated that Pappu was a “notorious professional leader” and one of those “persons who wanted to disrupt communal harmony.” The report said that Pappu was using Abdul Wahab, a labourer, as a front because he had cases against him multiple police stations in the city. Wahab later admitted being influenced by Pappu for filing the case.
The report added that “the probe till now has not revealed the presence of any mosque nor have people from the Muslim community made any statements regarding it”.
It further mentioned that the municipal council had also not found the presence of any mosque from 1947 to 1967, as it deposed during the cases which went on in the said time period. “The common people also rejected the presence of any mosque here,” read the report.
In its petition to the Sahranpur court, Guru Singh Sabha contended that they bought two adjoining plots in 2001 from one Anurag Atri and others. The Singh Sabha sought permission from Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee and began the construction of a gurdwara, after taking due permission from the concerned authorities. The first owner of the property was Sheikh Md. Aksari and due to some legal issues, his property had to be auctioned. At that time, one Khalil Ahmad objected that the disputed property had a public mosque in its north-west corner and thus it could not be auctioned. Aksari sought permission from the then sub-divisional magistrate to sell it off and it was granted. Consequently, he sold it off to two women. A petition was filed challenging the sale in the court of the special judge, Saharanpur which was dismissed on 02-12-1951. Subsequently, the Allahabad High Court also dismissed it.
After buying the property, the Singh Sabha began construction and faced objections following which a case was filed in 2010.
In response, the defendant Abdul Wahab said that he was the mutawalli of the said mosque and was against the sale of the disputed property. He alleged that the Singh Sabha presented a wrong map of the property to the authorities and thus got the permission. He contended that Aksari used around 535.69 square meter land for private purposes as a mosque. Initially, it was not in public use.
He added that following differences between the two women buyers, the matter went to court and Pandit Padam Prasad was declared the owner of one part of the property. His descendants, including Anurag Atri and others sold it off to the Singh Sabha. Wahab claimed that the mosque continued to exist and it was taken over by the Sunni Central Waqf Board in Lucknow but slowly, it lost out on most devotees.
In its order, the court noted that Wahab had later admitted that he was illiterate and had signed the affidavit without reading it. He also made a u-turn on ever having accepted that there used to be a mosque at the disputed property and that it was ever in use.
Wahab admitted that he had been misled by Pappu who offered him financial inducement and got him to file the affidavit.