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Curbs on Idgah entry, but temple open, claim Mathura residents

The area surrounding the Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi and Shahi Idgah in Mathura, on May 25.

The area surrounding the Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi and Shahi Idgah in Mathura, on May 25. | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

With piling suits and applications, claiming ownership of the land on which the Shahi Idgah mosque is built, on behalf of Lord Krishna, peace in the area surrounding the mosque compound and the Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi Temple premises — which share a wall — is prevailing under strict security blanket of the Uttar Pradesh Police and State Central paramilitary forces. 

As people throng the Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi temple from all over the country for a visit, entry to the Shahi Idgah mosque is heavily regulated with just Muslims from Mathura being allowed for offering namaaz on producing their ID cards — leading to palpable frustration among Muslims in the area. 

Naeem Khan, 35, who runs a tyre shop near the Deeg Gate Chowk, from where one can enter the lane leading to the mosque, said, “They check our Aadhaar card every time we want to go to the Idgah mosque. They do not do it for the thousands of people visiting the temple beside it every day.”   

Another resident of the area, a 36-year-old mother of two children, who did not want to reveal her name, said, “We are the ones having to go through this every day.” She said that they are asked to produce an ID even when they need to cross the mosque to go to the other side.

On the one hand, shopkeepers line the lanes outside all gates of the temple premises, catering to large crowds of people from all over the country and on the other, the lane to the mosque near the Deeg Gate Chowk is lined with quiet homes and just two grocery stores.

This lane ends in a narrow railway track, beyond which is the boundary wall of the Shahi Idgah mosque. The wall almost hides the domes of the mosque and is covered in barbed wire. There are tall police check posts along the boundary wall, from where law enforcement officials keep an tight watch on the area. 

The temple security is tight, no phones or electronic devices are allowed inside and a body check is mandatory but otherwise, there are no restrictions for anyone to visit. But entry to the mosque is heavily restricted and the Deeg Gate Chowk lane is also guarded by a police post and a couple of barricades, where two uniformed personnel keep out anyone who “is not a local”, according to the police officers manning the gate and Anand Kumar, the Superintendent of Police (Security) for the area. 

Mr. Khan said that they have been asked to show their IDs at the gate since the Ayodhya judgement of the Supreme Court in 2019 November. “Now, I just carry my Aadhaar card inside my phone cover now so I can easily produce it when asked,” he said, adding that the ID checking had become stricter in the last 7-8 months.

Another resident, a 54-year-old shopkeeper who lives along the railway track behind the mosque, said, “No one from outside Mathura is allowed to visit the Idgah. Whenever I go for namaaz, I have to show my Aadhaar card. The checking increased after the first COVID-19 lockdown.”

At the mosque’s entrance, one of the Uttar Pradesh Police officials manning the gate said, “We check everyone’s ID card to see if it has a Mathura address and only then allow people inside for namaaz.” SP Anand Kumar said that the security is as it has been for the last few years.

“There are no restrictions on visiting the temple premises. For the mosque, only Muslims are allowed and only for offering namaaz after their IDs are checked. There is no concept of allowing visits to the mosque. For the temple, thousands of people visit every day, so we duly check the IDs of only those who seem suspicious and then take action as and when required,” he explained.

And even as locals insist that Muslims from outside Mathura are not allowed inside the Shahi Idgah mosque, Mr. Kumar denied this and said that all Muslims are allowed for prayers after checking their IDs.  

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Printable version | May 27, 2022 8:03:48 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/curbs-on-idgah-entry-but-temple-open-claim-mathura-residents/article65464645.ece