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Ayodhya mosque construction starts

People take part in the formal launch of the Dhannipur mosque project on January 26, 2021. Photo: Special Arrangement  

The formal construction of the Dhannipur Mosque Project was launched on Republic Day with the unfurling of the Tricolour, singing of the National Anthem and planting of saplings of various trees like tamarind, mango, neem and guava at the five-acre plot in Dhannipur village here.

The plot was allotted by the Uttar Pradesh government on the directions of the Supreme Court in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi title suit.

The soil testing procedure for the structure had also been initiated.

The members of the Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation (IICF), which is overseeing the construction, assembled at the place around 8:30 am. After a brief Republic Day ceremony, conducted in the presence of police personnel, IICF chief trustee Zufar Faruqi planted the first sapling, a tamarind tree, followed by other members to mark the symbolic and low-key start of the project in the one-third area of the plot that will be developed as a green patch.

Existence of old shrine

IICF secretary Athar Hussain said the ‘green inauguration’ was chosen due to “practicality” because an old shrine already existed in one portion of the plot and the area around it would be developed as a green patch. The other reason was to send a message of environmental awareness. “We have serious concern for climate change,” Mr. Hussain told The Hindu.

As river Ghagra flows close to this village in Sohawal tehsil, samples of the soil were being collected for testing to ensure that the rivulets or water bodies did not disturb the structure. The organisers were awaiting 12-A and 80-G clearance of the Income Tax Act and permission for opening an FCRA (Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act) account and the necessary green light for the plan from the local development authority before the actual construction began, said Mr. Hussain. Once the permissions happened, the project would take around 30 months to complete, he added.

The project would comprise three parts: a mosque based on a modern design and a solar panel roof; a multi-speciality 200-bed hospital and community kitchen; and an Indo Islamic Cultural Research Centre, consisting of a library, underground museum and publication house. The project was estimated to cost around ₹100-110 crore, which would be collected through charity model from donors without any door to door fund-raising, Mr. Hussain said.

‘Completely new project’

Incidentally, the organisers did not invite any of the former litigants or persons associated with the Babri Masjid case to the event. “We are a completely new project. The message we want to give is that we are not a part of that [Babri Masjid dispute]. Nothing in the Supreme Court judgment mentions that this plot is in lieu of [Babri Masjid],” he stated.

IICF chief trustee Zufar Faruqi planted a sapling, followed by other members to mark the symbolic and low-key start of the Dhannipur Mosque Project.

IICF chief trustee Zufar Faruqi planted a sapling, followed by other members to mark the symbolic and low-key start of the Dhannipur Mosque Project.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

 

Some youths were seen clicking photographs and selfies with the board displaying the design of the project next to a temporary tent. Haider, a high-school student, said he expected the project to bring in a lot of “change and development” in the area.

Monish, a class 11 student, said the project would help the village and its population grow. “From a village, it will transform straight into a city, inshallah,” he added.

However, underneath the anticipation and excitement, several Muslim youths seemed to be discontented with the way the entire dispute panned out over the last few decades, culminating in the apex court granting the disputed land in Ayodhya for the construction of a Ram temple. There were muted but nostalgic references to the Babri Masjid, which was demolished by a mob of ‘karsevaks’ on December 6, 1992.

Ahsan, an electrician who works in Mumbai, said the project in his village did not excite him. “When they say there was no [Babri] mosque there, we don’t need it elsewhere. They should not give us anything in return. This is a forced imposition by the rulers. Our hearts are not convinced,” he observed.

Naming of centre

The IIFC has received suggestions to name the cultural research centre after Maulvi Ahmadullah Shah, a martyr of the 1857 revolt against the British. Mr. Hussain said Shah was a “luminary of the Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb,” the Indo-Islamic syncretic culture “which is the root of Awadh.” The IIFC was considering the name, he noted.

Among the few people who travelled to Ayodhya from Lucknow was Rohit Srivastava, an employee of the Law faculty in Lucknow University, who was the first person to donate money for the Dhannipur mosque project. Mr. Srivastava, who donated ₹ 21,000, said he was moved by the community kitchen and hospital and wanted to do his bit for the “noble cause.” “If we do not live with a feeling of love and brotherhood, we will also lag behind in development,” he stressed.

The green portion of the project would also have plants from all over the world, including the Amazon rainforest and areas affected by bushfires in Australia.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2021 9:32:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/ayodhya-mosque-project-construction-starts/article33668150.ece

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