The ritual will be organised at the Sufi shrine after eight years. The last time he was allowed to conduct offerings as part of the annual Urs was in 2005

Syed Ghouse Mohiyuddin Shakhadri, hereditary administrator of the Sufi shrine of Guru Dattatreya Bababudan Swami Dargah in Chikmagalur, is hopeful of conducting the three-day urs starting March 27 after a gap of eight years. The last time he was allowed to conduct offerings as part of the annual Urs was in 2005.

According to Mr. Mohiyuddin, the Supreme Court, while delivering its order in respect to his January 16 appeal, gave direction to the State Government to allow him to hold the Urs. “I am hopeful that the State Government will follow the court’s direction,” he told The Hindu.

Mr. Mohiyuddin had filed a petition praying that the State Government be directed to permit him to discharge all duties as Sajjada (hereditary administrator). In the interim application made earlier this year, Mr. Mohiyuddin had also pleaded for prevention of demolition of masjid near the cave shrine and restoration of the name board of dargah to “Sri Guru Dattatreya Bababudan Swamy Dargah alias Hazrat Dada Hayat Meer Khalandar Dargah” in place of “Sri Guru Dattatreya Peetha.”

The court has sought the government’s reply and adjourned the matter for four weeks. Mr. Mohiyuddin is expecting the final order on the issue before the Urs begins.

Mr. Mohiyuddin said: “Urs is paying homage to ancestors. Nobody else can pay homage to my ancestors on my behalf. However, the Chikmagalur district administration restrained me from performing it.”

He maintained that the only religious event held in the cave shrine before 1975 was Urs. But the district administration had been cooperating with organisations who conduct Datta Jayanti, Datta Mala Abhiyana, which were never performed before 1975, he claimed.

On the masjid, Mr. Mohiyuddin said that the district administration had first closed the structure and later demolished its insides. The district administration has documented the structure as a “prayer hall” which is listed for repair work.

‘Dargah nature’

In another case pending before the apex court, petitioners Karnataka Komu Sauharda Vedike (KKSV) has also raised questions related to the religious nature of the syncretic shrine, alleging that the “dargah nature” of the shrine was being destroyed on the pretext of repair work.

“The mosque and structures like Langar Khana, Bhandar Khana are crucial for the celebration of Urs in the true dargah way. Already the latter two structures are destroyed. Tampering with the mosque is one more step in officially destroying the physical evidence to prove the dargah nature of the shrine,” said K.L. Ashok, State President of KKSV.

Back in 2009, repair work contract given to a firm with expertise only in demolition work was cancelled only after a Supreme Court order, following an urgent appeal made by KKSV. Later, Archaeological Survey of India was asked to supervise the repair work. There were also attempts by political insiders, including Ministers, to install Datta idol inside the cave even as repair work was on, which was thwarted by the district administration.

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