The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Darshan heat on Bhojshala

Bhopal, June 1: The Bhojshala issue, often dubbed as Madhya Pradesh’s Ayodhya dispute, is hotting up again with Uma Bharti and Union minister of state for culture Bhavnabehn Chikalia planning a darshan on Tuesday and Muslims deciding to gather in a neighbouring shrine at Dhar.

District officials are working overtime to avoid a confrontation at the controversial place that Muslims believe to be a mosque and Hindus an 11th century temple-cum-seat of learning.

Archeological Survey of India has recently permitted Hindus to have darshan with “flowers and rice” on Tuesdays while Muslims are allowed to offer Friday prayers. For the remaining days, the site is open to general visitors for Re 1.

The administration is alarmed at the disquiet among local Muslims. In the last few days, they have begun gathering in large numbers in a dargah next to Bhojshala to assert their claim on the disputed land.

The issue has already seen blood-stained confrontations. In February, three persons were killed and several injured in a riot.

Bharti, undertaking a statewide Sankalp Yatra, will reach Dhar tomorrow. BJP leaders said about 15 party MLAs with their supporters and Chikalia will visit Bhojshala. A close aide of Bharti said: “There is no other political significance except that Umaji will visit the place.”

The local administration and Muslims, however, disagree. According to them, in an election year, Bharti intends to gain political mileage from the visit.

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