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Tuesday, July 31, 2001

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Mosque demolished

By Our Staff Correspondent

JAIPUR, JULY 30. A decrepit mosque built by a battalion of the Moghul army in the 16th century near Asind town in Bhilwara district of south Rajasthan was demolished by a mob of hoodlums and a temple built in its place on Friday last, sending shock waves across the State and leading to tension between the two communities.

The incident - which was concealed by the district administration for fear of a communal backlash - came to light today with the local residents approaching the Rajasthan Waqf Board here. The Waqf Board records refer to the mosque as ``Masjid Sawai Bhoj'' which was in use till 1956 and abandoned thereafter apparently because of thin population of Muslims in the vicinity.

The mosque was situated near the Sawai Bhoj temple - frequented mostly by the Gurjar community - 3 km from Asind. An old dargah, known as Badia dargah, is also at some distance from the temple premises and an `urs' is organised there on a large- scale every year.

The trouble reportedly began during the three-day `urs' celebrations which started on July 26. There was a dispute over the closure of the traditional route to the dargah, which used to pass through the temple complex. The temple trust had provided a new route, passing through the nearby Khari river, that had caused resentment among those visiting the dargah. The dispute took a violent turn when a mob objected to raising of tents near the dargah for organising qawwalis (devotional songs) during `urs' on Friday and burnt them down. The mob later reportedly attacked the mosque and razed it to the ground in no time in full view of the policemen deployed to keep a vigil around the dargah.

The mosque had been built in the ``Qalandari'' style - with no roof over it and a single high wall raised on the western side, facing the Holy Kaabah. It had a raised platform and three minarets. Since the old structure was already fragile, it took little time for the 300-strong mob to demolish it.

A fresh marble platform was hurriedly built at the site of the demolished mosque and an idol installed by Friday evening. According to the reports received here, the temple has been named ``Mandir Peer Pachhar Hanuman Ji'' (temple of Lord Hanuman who defeated Peer - the Muslim saint buried in the dargah).

The mosque is said to have been built by a battalion of Emperor Akbar's army in the 16th century when Akbar's forces were returning from Chittaurgarh after a battle. The army had stopped over briefly near Asind in the vicinity of Sawai Bhoj temple - which existed at that time - and built the mosque to mark the place. Akbar had later granted 700 bighas of land to the temple.

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