Shrine administrator calls government’s claim a bundle of lies
Even as the State government has filed its response to a petition filed in the Supreme Court, denying the existence of a mosque near the disputed cave shrine of Guru Dattatreya Bababudan Swami Dargah in Bababudangiri Hills in Chikmagalur, the government records in possession of Syed Ghouse Mohiyuddin Shakhadri, hereditary administrator of the shrine, challenge the government’s claim.
The government, had argued in court that there was no such mosque and what existed was only a prayer hall. Mr. Shakhadri has termed the State’s version “a bundle of lies” and shared copies of official documents with The Hindu which referred to a structure on the shrine premises as “mosque”.
In 1950, the then Deputy Commissioner of Chikmagalur K. Mohamed Ahmed, in his official letter (dated June 5, 1950) addressed to S. Ananda Rao, Amaldar of Chikmagalur, asked him to send immediately the records pertaining to renovation of the “masjid” at Dattatreya Peetha in Bababudangiri Hills. “The letter clearly refers to the structure on the shrine’s premises as ‘masjid’, not prayer hall as stated by the State government,” Mr. Shakhadri said.
He also gave a copy of another record, dated to 1932, obtained from archives of the Archaeological Survey of India. The statement, which carries contents of an inscription of 1830 installed by his ancestors, clearly refers to the place of the inscription as “on a wall near the masjid” in Bababudangiri Hills. “These are the records obtained by the State government. Now it wants to mislead the court by giving false information,” he alleged.
Mr. Shakhadri said the district administration, in its meeting proceedings, also said the structure was a masjid. In a management committee of the shrine held on February 6, 2001, the then Chikmagalur tahsildar submitted details of the cave shrine.
In that list, the tahsildar records “within the cave building there is a mosque”. He also records the dimension of the structure as 78’x40’. Further, he said the State Electricity Board’s records pertaining to electrification of the premises done in 1980 also refer to a structure on the premises as “dargah mosque”.
The State government, in its response, also said the hereditary administrator was not interested in taking part in Urs. Mr. Shakhadri found this statement “misleading”. He took part in the Urs held in 2012.
However, he did not take part in the Urs conducted by the administration in 2011 as he wanted to hold the same on dates convenient to him. The police took him into custody the day he wanted to conduct Urs that year.
“My demand has been that they should allow me to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine and allow me to put green cloth on the tomb. I don’t know which law restricts a person from visiting the graves of his forefathers,” he said.