Tension prevailed in Nejar village, around 8 km from Udupi, when about 100 members of the district units of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Bajrang Dal, and Hindu Jagran Vedike staged a rasta roko for some time at the Kallianpur-Kemmannu Junction objecting to prayers being offered at a mosque.

While activists of the Hindutva organisations charged that there was no permission for construction and running the mosque, the mosque authorities refuted it. Meanwhile, prayers were offered at the mosque, work on which building is yet to be completed.

A platoon of the Karnataka State Reserve Police (KSRP) and a unit of the District Armed Reserve (DAR) police have been deployed in and around Nejar. The police force was also deployed at Kallianpur-Kemmannu Junction and near the mosque.

Baikady Suprasad Shetty, president of the district unit of VHP, said that the Kallianpur Gram Panchayat or the Town Planning Authority had not issued permission for the construction of the mosque.

“Let the mosque authorities take proper permission for it. We have asked the district authorities to solve the problem, failing which we will launch an agitation,” he said.

The gram panchayat was controlled by Congress supporters till 2010, and thereafter it came under the control of the BJP. Gram panchayat elections are not fought under the banner of political parties or under party symbols.

GP chief’s view

Satish Naik, president of Kallianpur Gram Panchayat, said that the panchayat had given permission for construction of the mosque in 2004. But following objections from some Hindutva organisations, it was withdrawn a few months later. The matter then went to the lower courts and finally to the High Court of Karnataka.

The High Court had, about two or three years ago, directed the gram panchayat to allow construction of the mosque subject to certain conditions which included permission from the Town Planning Authority, conversion of land for non-residential purpose, registration in the name of a trust and no-objection certificate (NoC) from people in a 100-metre radius. “If these conditions are fulfilled, we have to give permission as per court orders,” he said.

Trust’s stand

However, Zafarulla, treasurer of Al-Ameen Trust, said that there were eight to 10 Muslim houses in Nejar in 2004. A landlord donated 10 cents of land for the construction of the mosque to the trust so that the Muslims could pray there. The gram panchayat gave permission for the mosque and work went on for about nine months.

“But owing to change of government or other reasons, the gram panchayat secretary came and put up a notice at the site that construction should be stopped. They did not give any notice to the trust. We twice approached the High Court on this issue and the orders came in our favour. But the gram panchayat came up with new objections over some documents. We have submitted all the documents to the panchayat, which is simply harassing us,” he alleged.

As there were more Muslim houses now, there was no space to offer prayers. Hence, a mosque was needed, Mr. Zafarulla said.

“We approached district in-charge Minister Vinay Kumar Sorake, Deputy Commissioner M.T. Reju, and Superintendent of Police M.B. Boralingaiah some days ago. All of them said that we could offer prayers. But Mr. Sorake pointed out that no repair or construction should be taken up as there was a dispute. We agreed to it. So, we have been offering prayers in this mosque for the last 15 days,” he said.

The gram panchayat president and Panchayat Development Officer inspected the spot on October 15, Mr. Zafarulla added.

‘Situation peaceful’

Superintendent of Police M.B. Boralingaiah said that the situation was peaceful at Nejar and Kallianpur.