Idgah maidan row: Bid to install CCTV cameras leads to tension

Communication gap led residents to thinking that it was an attempt to build a compound wall

Updated - June 20, 2022 07:14 am IST

Published - June 11, 2022 10:38 pm IST - Bengaluru

BBMP officials preparing to lay cables for installation of CCTV cameras at Idgah maidan in Bengaluru on Saturday.

BBMP officials preparing to lay cables for installation of CCTV cameras at Idgah maidan in Bengaluru on Saturday. | Photo Credit: K. MURALI KUMAR

When civic officials turned up at the now disputed Idgah maidan in Chamarajpet with an earthmover and started digging a trench to lay cables for CCTV cameras on Saturday, Muslim residents of the area gathered and took objection to the work. With no prior communication, they mistook it to be an attempt to build a compound wall. Tension prevailed in the area, and the civic officials had to give up digging.

Permission sought

The effort to put up CCTV cameras was in the wake of a few Hindutva organisations recently petitioning the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) seeking permission to hold International Yoga Day and other events at the maidan; a move opposed by Muslim organisations who have held that the maidan is a gazetted wakf property.

Controversy over Idgah Maidan in Bengaluru
Idgah Maidan at Chamrajpet in Bengaluru | Video Credit: K Murali Kumar

However, BBMP has claimed ownership of the land, following which Hindu organisations have demanded that all communities be allowed to host events at the ground.

Digging at the place was taken up since the city police had asked the civic body to install CCTV cameras at the maidan and ensure that the cables were installed underground, so that it was tamper-proof.

“We do not want a communal situation on our hands. So, we want it covered by CCTV cameras, and we will also have police deployment for now,” said a senior police official. “However, when civic officials went to carry out the request of the police, there was a communication gap, and some residents assumed that we were building a compound wall. The maidan was being dug up to lay cables. Now, we will install CCTV cameras with overhead cables,” said Tushar Giri Nath, Chief Civic Commissioner, BBMP.

Contrary claims

Meanwhile, Karnataka State Board of Auqaf has claimed the 2 acre 10 guntas of land, that is the Idgah maidan, is a registered waqf property as per wakf gazette notification dated June 7, 1965. BBMP has claimed that its khata records show the land as a civic property. However, there have been allegations of BBMP khata records being tampered with. Central Muslim Association (CMA) that has been the caretaker of the Idgah maidan recently submitted a set of documents to bolster their claim over the land, including a 1964 Supreme Court order which reportedly struck down a proposal to construct a building on the land.

Chief Civic Commissioner Mr. Giri Nath said prima facie civic records indicated the land belongs to BBMP. “But now that the Karnataka State Board of Auqaf, also a government body, has claimed ownership over the land, we will look into it more carefully. If the board makes a formal claim seeking a khata in its name, we will take a call,” he said. 

Meanwhile, will the city police give permission for Hindutva organisations to hold their events at the Idgah maidan, is the moot question. “We are not keen on having an old communal fault line reopening again. If there is no dispute over the ownership of the land, we have no issues with giving permission. But if that is contested between two government bodies, it is for the government to take a call,” a senior officer said.

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