Bhopal, Jan. 13: Bhojshala is on the boil again, with a hardline Hindu group demanding permission to offer prayers at the site for the full day on Basant Panchami, a Friday, in violation of rules.
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has barely a month to defuse the brewing conflict.
Last Friday, Hindu Jagran Manch convener Ashok Jain called on Chauhan and handed over a memorandum, demanding that Muslims be barred from Bhojshala on February 15.
According to an Archaeological Survey of India order, Hindus are allowed to pray at the disputed site every Tuesday and on Basant Panchami while Muslims can pray there every Friday. The “Jumma prayers” are offered between 1pm and 3pm.
The order also spells out that if Basant Panchami falls on a Friday, as it does this year, Hindus will have the right to prayer from 7 in the morning but will have to vacate the premises between 1pm and 3pm to let Muslims offer prayers.
It is this that the Jagran Manch, an umbrella organisation of the local RSS, VHP and the Bajrang Dal, is opposing.
A delegation led by the Dhar city qazi, Mohammad Siddiq, has also met Chauhan, seeking firm assurance that the “rule of law” would prevail and Jumma prayers would be allowed without hindrance.
For the BJP chief minister, the tussle has erupted at a tricky time. The Assembly elections are due in the state later this year. Dhar, 350km from Bhopal, falls in the politically significant Malwa region that sends 44 MLAs to the 230-member House.
District collector C.B. Singh admitted the situation was volatile. Sources said Singh was keeping all options open, including imposition of prohibitory orders as a preventive measure.
The dispute over the site also described as the Ayodhya of Madhya Pradesh — considered a mosque by Muslims and an 11th-century temple by Hindus — goes back years, and over a dozen people have died in clashes since 1935.