Karnataka Continues to be in a Row – Dispute Arises Over a 14th Century Muslim Shrine


By Akhlad Khan - Twitter: @BawaNaaved India's state of Karnataka is yet again in crisis after the recent hijab row, which has already turned out…

By Akhlad Khan – Twitter: @BawaNaaved

India’s state of Karnataka is yet again in crisis after the recent hijab row, which has already turned out to be one of the most universally discussed issues following the barring of Muslim girls in Veil/Hijab to educational institutions. On Monday another incident came to light, this time from the Aland city of Karnataka where the site of a 14th century Shrine of a Muslim sufi saint ‘Hazrat Sheikh Alauddin Ansari’ exists, which has been pushed to a dispute by the BJP politicos and the Hindu extremists claiming the site to have connection with a Hindu Lord ‘Shiv’.

In this article, the developments in both the hijab row and the case of the 14th century Muslim Shrine will be covered.

Students wearing Veil/Hijab and Burqa were denied entry to educational institutions in Shivamogga and Udupi city by the authorities citing the Karnataka High Court’s interim order on Monday.

According to a news report by NDTV, 15 students were denied entry to the DVS College in Shivamogga as they insisted to attend the college not only wearing the Veil/Hijab but also with the Burqa (the religious gown which Muslim women wears to cover themselves).

Local sources said, The college authorities told them that they cannot attend the classes as the HC interim order was enforced.

The girls then gathered at the college gates but the policemen deployed there said they were not permitted to form a gathering as the prohibitory orders were in place under Section 144 of the CrPC (a rule of law which prohibits gathering of more than four people at a time).

Similarly in Udupi district of Karnataka, Muslim girls were not allowed inside the Government PU Girls College and hence, they were not permitted to attend practical science tests that were being held as part of preparatory exams.

The practical examinations for second-year science students began at the government pre-university college for women in Udupi with the college not allowing three students to sit the examinations wearing hijab. The girls, as a result missed their final Physics practical examination.

The hijab row which began from Udupi in late December and spread across the state after an interim order by the Karnataka high court has sparked public outrage but the right-wing government in the state has not budged. The high court last week after hearing the matter for 11 days, have reserved the verdict. Students have been advised not to wear any religious clothing untill the court delivers its judgement on the issue.

Meanwhile, a tense situation prevailed in Karnataka’s Aland city on Tuesday after a march by Hindutva groups led by BJP leader Union Minister Bhagwanth Khuba and BJP MLA Subhash Guttedar to offer prayers to a Shivling (Idol of a Hindu Lord Shiv) in the 14th century’s ‘Ladle Aland Dargah’ (Muslim Sufi Saint Sheikh Alauddin Ansari’s Shrine) premises, in violation of section 144 (a rule of law which prohibits gathering of mote than four persons at a time).

The prohibitory orders were issued in the city, following the recent incident of desecration of the Shivling.

Siddalinga Swami, member of the Sri Ram Sena (A Hindu Organization) and head of Karuneshwar Mutt (a Hindu religious authority) ‘Andola’ in Jewargi taluk area, had announced that he will take out an Aland Chalo (move to Aland) rally on March 1 to perform religious ceremonies for purifying the Shivling. He had also demanded that the State Government permit the construction of a temple in the premises of the Muslim shrine to protect the Shivling there. They claim that the shrine site belongs to the Hindu lord ‘Shiv’, which has led to a dispute over the land.

However, the government approved document suggests that the shrine and the Black Mosque which was built by Ali Farhad (the brother of Afzal Khan, a general of the Adil Shahi dynasty) stands within a few metres from the shrine, declared as protected monuments, and come under the jurisdiction of the Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage. In addition to this, both being gazette notified institutions, they come under the jurisdiction of the Karnataka State Board of Auqaf, Government of Karnataka. The shrine complex itself is an ideal specimen of the Indo-Islamic style of architecture.

The Deputy Commissioner Yashwanth Gurukar, on Saturday had issued an order barring Hindu leaders from entering the district on dates when the Shab-e-Baraat (Muslim rituals of lunar 15 Shabaan) ceremony at the Alauddin Ansari’s Shrine in Aland and Mahashivarathiri (Hindu festival) was to be celebrated.

Breaching the law and orders put in place, the BJP politicos along with the Hindutva extremists entered the premises of the shrine and performed their rituals.

A local news source from Gulbarga district of Karnataka reported that Muslim organisations and leaders protested against the District Administration’s alleged High handedness in Aland district. Protesters condemned the alleged biased action of the local police on Muslim protesters. The protest was declared after police reportedly started picking up youth from as early as 5am in the morning on Wednesday. A women’s husband passed away from cardiac arrest allegedly due to the panic and chaos caused by the police raids.

Sources also stated that the police denied the burial of dead bodies in the graveyard of the ‘Aland Shrine’s premises’, another site in India which has been disputed for having alleged connections with the Hindu lord.

The Babri Mosque in 1992 was demolished by the Hindutva activists (Karsevaks) for their claim that the Mosque was built on the site where the Hindu lord Ram was born. The Indian Apex court in 2019 had awarded the disputed land to construct Ram Temple in Ayodhya district of Uttar Pradesh state. Suits have also been filed in Indian courts seeking the removal of two other historical Mosques ‘Shahi Eidgah’ and ‘Gyanvapi Mosque’ situated in Mathura and Varanasi districts of Uttar Pradesh respectively, a matter listed to be heard by the Indian Judiciary.

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