“If the district police officer will not unlock Jamia Masjid Fakhrul Noor in three days we will break in and start organising prayers on our own,” Deobandi clerics said at a press conference in Bhakkar on Friday.
They said a district magistrate on May 16 had given a verdict in their favour and said that the mosque should be handed over to them. They blamed the district police officer, Humayum Masood Sindhu, of not handing over the mosque to create hostility between Deobandis and Barelwais.
The press conference was addressed by Jamiat Ulema Islam deputy secretary general (Punjab) Maulana Muhamamad Safiullah, former nazim Rana Aftab Ahmed Khan, Anjuman Tajiran district president Rana Hanif and Ziaullah Khan.
DPO Sindhu said he had requested the magistrate for some time to settle the differences between the two sects. He said handing over the mosque to deobandis at this stage would only aggarvate the matter. He said Barelvis, too, were unwilling to let go of the control of the mosque.
He said he was trying to form a committee of residents of the area to settle the matter. He said one suggestion was to hand over the mosque to Auqaf Department and then allow both sects to come and say prayers. He said the Deobandis were unwilling to allow Barelvis to recite durood on loud speaker after every prayer the way they wanted to.
He said already some members of the Barelvi congregation had registered a case against 42 members of the Deobandi sect allegeding blasphemy. The Deobandis, he said, too had registered a case against seven nominated and 12 unidentified men of the Barelvi sect under Sections 324 (attempt to murder), 13/20/65 and 420.
City police station house officer, Qasim Nathoka, said six members of each sect were arrested following the FIRs but were later released on bail. He said Barelvis had accused 42 men including Haji Mehboob, Ehsanullah, Atiqur Rehman, Khalid Mahmood, and Khalid Hasan of the deobandi sect of blasphemy in tearing stickers with Holy Prophet (pbuh)’s name pasted on the walls of the mosque.
He said that in their FIR against the Barelvis, Deobandis had nominated seven men and accused another 12 unidentified people of stealing iron rods from an under construction portion of the mosque and attacking and beating the prayer leader.
Talking to The Express Tribune, one of the accused, Haji Mehboob, said that the mosque had been run by deobandis since its inception in 1964. He said he had had a house next to the mosque which he had donated for mosque’s extension in 2009. He said when he had to go for Hajj he appointed a man named, Atiqur Rahman, now district convenor of the Sunni Ittehad Council, in charge of renovation. He said he had given Rs350,000 to Rahman to buy construction material. On his return, he said, he found out that the construction material of inferior quality had been bought. He said he brought the matter before a mohalla committee where it was decided that Rahman should be removed from mosque’s affairs. He said Rahman then went and joined the SIC and started campaigning with their support for the mosque to be handed over to him.
Rahman denied that he had bought inferior quality construction material. He said the mosque was built by his grandfather. He said some people in the area had joined hands to malign him so that they could get control of the mosque.
He said he would arrange a press conference on Sunday (today) along with other members of the Barelvi sect and produce evidence that they were the rightful managers of the mosque.
Shaikh Sharif Rizvi, a senior Barelvi cleric, told The Tribune that it was no longer just a matter of controlling the mosque but also of proper respect for the Holy Prophet (pbuh). He said some Deobandis had committed blasphemy by removing stickers with Prophet’s (pbuh) name written over them and that they should be punished for that.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 12th, 2011.