Waqf Board seeks probe into Barabanki mosque demolition

Demanding restoration, it says the administration’s action is ‘patently illegal and high-handed’

Published - May 18, 2021 10:39 pm IST - LUCKNOW:

The Sunni Waqf Board said it would approach the Allahabad High Court.

The Sunni Waqf Board said it would approach the Allahabad High Court.

The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board on Tuesday condemned the demolition of a mosque in a tehsil compound in Barabanki district by the administration, terming it a “patently illegal and high-handed action” and demanded its restoration. The Barabanki administration, without making a reference to any mosque, said an “illegal residential complex” was found situated opposite to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate’s (SDM) residence in the Ramsanehi ghat tehsil compound, and legal orders issued by the SDM court were executed on the ground on May 17.

The administration allegedly carried out the demolition of the mosque in the name of removing encroachment, the board said.

The Sunni Waqf Board said it would approach the Allahabad High Court for the restoration of the mosque, a high-level judicial enquiry, and seek action against the “guilty officers”.

Sunni Waqf Board chairperson Zufar Faruqi said the mosque, the Waqf Masjid Gareeb Nawaz Al Maroof Tehsil Wali, situated near the tehsil compound in Ramsanehi ghat, was 100 years old.

“This act is against law, a misuse of power, and in utter violation of the clear orders dated April 24 passed by the High Court,” Mr. Faruqi said.

He was referring to a general order issued by a Division Bench of the court on April 24, barring demolitions and other action in the State till end of May. Any orders of eviction, dispossession or demolition, already passed by the High Court, district court or civil court, if not executed till the date of passing of this order shall remain in abeyance for the period till May 31, the Bench of acting Chief Justice Sanjay Yadav and Justice Prakash Padia had said in view of the upsurge in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adarsh Singh, District Magistrate (DM), Barabanki, said on March 15 a notice was issued to the opposite parties over the ownership of the said structure and they were provided opportunity for a hearing. Following the notice, those living in the compound fled from there and the “structure in question” was seized by the tehsil administration from the security point of view, said the DM.

The managing committee of the mosque challenged the validity of the notice issued by the tehsildar of Ramsanehi ghat through a writ petition in the HC and submitted that they were faced with “imminent danger of a demolition of mosque”.

The HC on March 18, while disposing off the writ, said, “…considering the fact that the notice has been given to the petitioners only for the purpose of seeking documentary evidence, and not for demolition, nothing needs to be proceeded any further in this writ petition, which is disposed of finally with a direction that the petitioners shall be permitted to file reply to the said notice dated 15th March, 2021 within 15 days from today, in addition to the reply already filed by them.”

Once any reply is filed, the matter shall be considered by the authorities concerned and a fresh decision shall be taken, a Bench of Justices Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya and Manish Kumar said.

The DM Mr. Singh said that in sequence to the HC order in the writ and disposal of the counter statement of the opposite parties on April 2, it was “proven” that the “said residential construction” was “illegal”.

The mosque was reportedly managed by a Waqf known as Masjid Gareeb Nawaz Ali Maroof Tehsil Wali situated at Mohalla Akbari, village Bani Kadar. The mosque was issued a certificate of “tabbaliyat” by the Sunni Central Waqf Board on July 5, 2019, and the affairs of the mosque were managed by a managing committee of seven individuals, its caretakers had submitted before court.

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