Ajmer Singh, Thursday, May 4, 2006 (New Delhi):
Was the demolition of the dargah in Vadodara which led to the cycle of violence in the state an isolated event or part of a sinister plan?
A Gujarat-based NGO the Bazmee Azeez Charitable trust believes that it was deliberate. On April 28 it sent out an urgent plea across the country, right from the Gujarat Governor to the President of India.
"Mayor Sunil Solanki has declared he would remove historical dargahs in Vadodara, namely Joraveer Pir Dargah, Badshah Bava Pir Dargah etc. on the Yakutpura Fatehpura Main Road," the appeal read.
"We seek your immediate intervention before the law and order situation is disturbed and communal violence is thrust upon the peace loving citizens of Vadodara," it further said.
The demolished dargah was on this same road, but in the absence of any intervention, Vadodara found itself in the midst of a fresh round of communal tension.
The Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, Mohammed Ansari says he has asked the Gujarat government for a report.
Excessive use of force
"This is an instance of excessive use of force in a situation that could have been handled with tact. We have sought a report form the Gujarat government," said Ansari.
"This is not an illegal structure. This predates the municipal plan. It is a centuries old structure and saying it is an encroachment will be wrong. There is nationwide concern that some thing unpleasant which happened a few years back is being revisited," he added.
But was the Rashidudin Chisti-ni-Dargah demolition an isolated event?
NDTV has learnt that the Prime Minister's high level committee on Muslims which visited Gujarat two months back has received numerous complaints of forcible takeovers and demolitions of mosques and dargahs across Gujarat.
The committee has observed in its report that eleven Muslim graveyards in Ahmedabad have been illegally taken over, such as the Dargah Peerana Imamudin.
Sources in the Prime Minister's high level committee on Muslims have told NDTV that there is enormous pressure being put on the Muslims in Gujarat.
Many are facing economic and social boycott. Others are being forced to sell land at throwaway prices. The committee was set up a year ago and will submit its report to the Prime minister two months later.