The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Masjid split wide open

Gangtok, Nov. 21: The long standing feud within the Anjuman-e-Islamiya Masjid here, the state's biggest Sunni mosque, deepened yesterday with the vice-president of the Islamiya, Mohammed Farook, issuing an order to remove Imam Mohammed Jamshed Alam.

The trouble started when other members of the executive committee alleged that the removal was unconstitutional and illegal.

They said since the order was issued without the assent of the Islamiya president, Mohammed Iqbal, and the general secretary, Noor Mohammed, it was invalid and unacceptable.

Citing the reasons for the Imam's removal, the vice-president maintained that there was a growing number of complaints against him and that he had not been performing his duties well.

This is the latest crisis in the mosque where a long-standing feud already exists between the Deobandi and Bareilly groups that comprise the Islamiya.

According to sources, the Bareilly group has the maximum number of executive members, including the Imam, who are opposed to Jamats (outsiders who come to preach the religion) staying at the masjid.

The Deobandi group of executive members ' who support the Jamats 'convened a meeting yesterday and headed by Farook, passed a resolution to remove the Imam, who has been holding the post for the last eight years.

The Imam, however, continued to perform his duties with help from the Bareilly group.

According to the Imam who spoke to The Telegraph, 'all the drama was just because of their (Bareilly) opposition to Jamats'.

'Sikkim is a peaceful state and we don't want any disturbances. These people are strangers and we don't know their antecedents,' he said.

Sources said the order was unconstitutional because according to the mosque rules, all important decisions are taken by the 17-member executive council in the presence of the president and the general secretary. Besides, according to a senior executive member, 'a standing order issued in 1999 disallows Jamats at the mosque'.

The president and the vice- president were not available for comments.

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