Barabanki mosque demolition: Sunni Waqf Board to move HC, seek mosque restoration

The district administration, however, asserted that the action was as per legal proceedings. The mosque in question was situated in Bani Kada village within tehsil of Ramsanehi Ghat and was also known locally as the Gareeb Nawaz Masjid.

A day after the district administration in Barabanki demolished a mosque, claiming it to be an “illegal structure”, the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board Tuesday issued a statement calling the action illegal and a violation of a directive issued by the Allahabad High Court.

The Board said it will move the high court, seeking “restoration of the mosque, a high-level judicial inquiry and action against the guilty officers”.

The district administration, however, asserted that the action was as per legal proceedings. The mosque in question was situated in Bani Kada village within tehsil of Ramsanehi Ghat and was also known locally as the Gareeb Nawaz Masjid.

A statement issued by Zufar Farooqui, chairman, Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board, said, “I strongly condemn the patently illegal and high-handed action of Tehsil and District Administration, Ramsnehi Ghat, District Barabanki, particularly that of Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Ramsanehi Ghat, by which they have demolished a 100-year-old mosque situated near Tehsil compound…in the name of alleged removal of encroachment. This act is against law, misuse of power and in utter violation of clear orders dated April 24, 2021 passed by the Honourable High Court. The UP Sunni Central Waqf Board will immediately approach the Honourable High Court demanding restoration of mosque, (a) high-level judicial inquiry and action against the guilty officers.”

In an order pronounced on April 24, the Allahabad High Court had said, “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 31.05.2021.”

A Bench of Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Yadav and Justice Prakash Padia passed the order in response a PIL, saying it was necessary as courts at all levels are working with reduced capacity.

In a statement, the district administration defended the demolition, saying, “In the Tehsil residential complex of Ramsnehi Ghat in front of the SDM’s residence, regarding a residential illegal structure, (a) chance was given to opposite party to present their version through a notice issued on March 15. After the notice was sent, the people living in the illegal structure fled… On March 18, the Tehsil administrative team took the questionable construction under its possession for the purpose of safety.”

It further said, “The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court, during (the) hearing of writ petition (filed by the mosque), had established that the residential construction is illegal. On the basis of this, a case was lodged at SDM, Ramsnehi Ghat court… Following legal proceedings, (the) orders followed on May 17, 2021.”

The said hearing on March 18 on a petition filed by the mosque saying that the notice had been “issued with an intention to demolish the mosque without complying and ensuring the direction as contained in Paragrah 8(iii) of the judgement dated 3.6.2016”.

The advocate representing the government had informed the court that on the instructions of the sub-divisional magistrate, Mohammad Naseem, a member of the mosque’s managing committee, was served a notice requiring him to furnish documentary evidence on the mosque and it wasn’t intended for demolition.

A Bench of Justices Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya and Manish Kumar disposed of the petition, observing that the notice had been served on the mosque “only for the purpose of seeking documentary evidence, and not for demolition”.

Source: The Indian Express

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