Bidar police arrested four persons in connection with the trespassing of the Archaeological Survey of India-protected Mahmud Gawan madrasa and performing puja inside on October 6 during the Dasara procession. Earlier, 9 persons had been booked for trespass.
Manish Karbikar, Inspector General of Police (North Eastern Range), informed The Hindu of the arrests on October 7.
Bidar MLA Rahim Khan demanded stringent action against the culprits for ‘attempting to instigate enmity between religious communities and provoke communal violence’.
Describing Bidar as a harmonious city known for peaceful coexistence of different communities with diverse cultural backgrounds and practices, Vinay Malage, a leader of Team YUVA, a non-governmental organisation working for conservation of heritage and the environment, demanded the formation of a fact-finding team to get to the bottom of the incident and ensure proper legal action against the culprits.
“We, as peace loving residents of Bidar, want to ensure the harmony of the place remains as strong as before. Hence, we seek prompt and impartial action by the district administration and by the police department,” Mr. Malage said.
Mahmud Gawan madrasa is a 562-year-old heritage building in the old town of Bidar city. On October 6, the structure came into the limelight after a video clip showed a group of men breaking open the gate of the ASI-protected monument and forcibly entering the premises raising slogans hailing ‘Hindu Rashtra’ and ‘Bhavani Mata’ during the Olakote Bhavani Devi procession as part of Dasara celebrations.
Asaduddin Owaisi, national president of All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen and Lok Sabha member from Hyderabad, took to Twitter to call the trespassers extremists and questioned Bidar police and Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai. He accused the BJP of promoting such activity to demean Muslims.
In Bidar, the situation on the ground got tense with a group from the Muslim community staging a protest outside Town police station demanding legal action against the trespassers who, they alleged, attempted to instigate communal violence and disturb the peace. They vacated the place only after suitable action was assured by Additional Superintendent of Police Mahesh Meghannanavar.
Following a complaint by Mohammed Shafiuddin, a businessman, the police registered a First Information Report by 1.30 p.m. under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against 60 persons and named nine persons – Naresh Gauli, Prakash Mechanic, Vinu Mechanic, Munna, Sagar Banti, Jagadish Gauli, Arun Gauli, Ganesh Gauli, and Gorak Gauli – who were mentioned in the complaint.
Complaint lodged by ASI
In another development, authorities of the Assistant of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) lodged a complaint with the Town police with a request to take necessary appropriate action on the incident. An ASI official informed the police that the Mahmud Gawan madrasa is a Centrally protected monument maintained by the Union Ministry of Culture through the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). During the Bhavani Mata Kalikadevi procession on October 6 night, some people had entered the premises at 1.30 a.m. and performed ‘some event’ without permission from the competent authority.
Anirudh, ASI Conservation Assistant, told The Hindu that the trespassers had not damaged the protected monument. Trespassing the protected monument and performing a puja without prior permission is an offence for which his department had lodged a complaint with the police.
Neither Superintendent of Police Kishore Babu nor Deputy Commissioner Govinda Reddy could be reached on phone, despite repeated calls seeking their comments on the situation.
According to people who are familiar with the Olakote Bhavani Devi procession, which takes place on the last day of Navaratri, every year, elders of the Hindu community break a coconut near the minaret of the Mahmud Gawan madrasa, outside the premises. This ritual is carried out without any problem every year. The suspect that trespassing on the structure, shouting slogans and pouring kunkum (vermilion) inside the premises appear to be aimed at instigating enmity between religious communities and triggering communal violence.