//Dhar tense following clashes at Bhojshala

Dhar tense following clashes at Bhojshala

Dhar (MP), Feb 03: The curfew imposed today in this sensitive town following lathicharge on a violent crowd of devotees in the controversial Bhojshala shrine has been withdrawn. However, the area is still tense and Section 144 remains in place.

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The curfew was imposed to prevent flare up of sentiments among the large crowd of devotees celebrating Basant Panchami in the Bhojshala, a protected archaeological monument, claimed as a religious place by both the communities, District Collector R K Gupta said.

Under an agreement, Friday Namaz was offered by Muslims at a makeshift arrangement, made on the structure`s roof, official sources said.

The commotion started at Lakkadpeetha area behind the controversial structure where around 300-400 Muslims were heading towards the complex for offering Namaz during the stipulated period of 1 pm to 3 pm and were stopped by devotees participating in the Basant Panchami festivities, Gupta said.

Police resorted to lathicharge and cleared the Bhojshala, he said adding while most of the people have reached their homes after the curfew was announced, those on the streets were being escorted out.

A group of around 15 members of minority community entered the complex and offered Friday Namaz atop the Bhojshala where special tents were erected as a makeshift arrangement after security personnel gained control in and around the historic structure.

Police fired teargas shells and lathicharged a large crowd of devotees who pelted stones on them, resisting moves to get the controversial Bhojshala vacated.

Bhojshala, was being vacated to allow Muslims to enter the complex for their friday Namaz during the stipulated time of 1 pm to 3 pm, when the devotees got violent, police sources said.

While police maintained tight cordon around Bhojshala, activists of Hindu Jagaran Manch (HJM) took away a portrait of Goddess Saraswati from the complex raising slogans in protest against the action to vacate the complex.

The activists were raising slogans like "Hindu Swabhiman Ka Apman Nahin Sahenge (we will not tolerate insult to self-respect of Hindus)".

Police and devotees fought a pitched battle for over an hour in and around the historic structure.

Bhojshala is a site where the Hindu ruler Raja Bhoj is believed to have constructed a temple. Later, the Muslims are believed to have built a mosque in its place.