According to press reports, some Hindus have floated a trust and started a campaign to “regain” the land of Mathura Idgah when the fact is that this matter was settled long ago between the town’s Muslims and Hindus way back in 1968. The settlement was overseen by the local administration and registered in court. Accordingly, around half of the land of the Idgah was given to the Hindu party which has built a magnificent temple and other facilities there. Here are two articles about this issue published in Muslim & Arab Perspectives way back in 1995 when a similar campaign was started by the Hindutvites:
Hindutvites renew campaign against Mathura and Kashi mosques
With the general elections in sight, the VHP has decided to renew its campaign to usurp the Mathura Idgah and the Gyanvapi Mosque at Varanasi. This front has been quiet for some time since the Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) frustrated Hindutvite efforts to storm the Mathura Idgah on 15 August last. Unprecedented security arrangements forced the VHP to scale down its attempt to forcibly occupy the Idgah Mosque at Mathura, south of Delhi.
The initial plan was slated to culminate in a concocted new ritual (yagya) to be held on 18 August 1995 in a field adjacent to the historical mosque built by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. The U.P. state government’s firm stand, that no such new ritual will be allowed within a radius of three kilometres of the Mosque, led the Hindutva outfit to organize it in a temple at a distance of only two kilometres from the Mosque.
The revival of the plan to occupy the Mosque was part of the VHP/BJP tactic to force the polarization of voters on Hindu-Muslim lines in anticipation of the general elections. The BJP which had earlier held that the Mathura and Varanasi mosques were not “on its agenda,” now supports the VHP programme and demands that the mosque complex be handed over to the Hindutva outfit. VHP and BJP had calculated that the erstwhile Mayawati government in U.P., surviving on BJP crutches, would not be able to stand up to the VHP campaign which was in clear violation of the law enacted after the demolition of the Babri Mosque ensuring maintenance of the status quo of religious places of worship as existed at the time of independence in 1947.
The Mathura Idgah, together with the Gyanvapi Mosque at Varanasi, is on top of the list of hundreds of mosques claimed by the VHP to be standing on sites of “demolished temples.” Even Delhi’s magnificent Jama Masjid and Qutb Minar are on this concocted list. It is exclusively disclosed here that a movement has been on for the last few months to hold Hindu rituals at the Qutb Minar but the Indian press has chosen not to report it. This is how a case is slowly built up before a mass movement is organized to occupy the targeted mosque or graveyard or the like.
The temple standing next to the Idgah stands on the Mosque land under a settlement (see document below) in 1968 between Muslims and Hindus of the town under which the Idgah Trust relinquished large chunks of its complex on which a magnificent temple stands today. The Hindus in turn forsook their claim to the Mosque itself. It has taken the temple trust only 30 years to renege on that written agreement. It also proves that Hindutvadis cannot be trusted even with written solemn agreements. Interestingly, the chairman (Mr Dalmia) of the temple trust, who reneged on the pact, is also the current president of the VHP! This shows how trustworthy the Hindutvites are.
Unlike Babri where prayers had been stopped since its occupation in December 1949 and an idol was left installed inside it by orders of a local court, the two mosques claimed now are totally functional and under Muslim control. Moreover, the memories of Babri and the bloody riots that followed its demolition are still fresh in the minds of the people.
Ashok Singhal, VHP general secretary, has admitted that the exercise is aimed at bringing a Hindutva government at the centre which alone can pave the way for ‘liberating’ the ‘temples’ [mosques] at Ayodhya, Varanasi and Mathura.
Although both the 1968 agreement between Mathura Hindus and Muslims and the 1993 law about the places of worship do not leave any moral or legal ground to demand the Idgah Mosque, the VHP has been working hard to strengthen its claim to the mosque. We are able to exclusively disclose that the VHP people have dug a secret tunnel from the adjoining temple into the mosque’s thick walls and placed certain artefacts just under the mosque’s mihrab which one day, as usual in such cases of usurpation, will be suddenly ‘discovered’ as those belonging to the mythical god Krishna. A window resembling those of prisons has been fitted at the breached place and is now shown to devotees entering the temple (Krishna is supposed to have been born in a prison).
This place, now called ‘garba griha’ (sanctum sanctorum) was officially inaugurated by the VHP leader Vamdeo of Vrindavan on 18 April 1995 in the presence of local administration people. Local Muslims opposed this move and informed the then UP chief minister Mulayam Singh. Some local Muslims, as a result, have been harassed by the police and intelligence. A local Muslim leader, Mirza Basheer Beg, has been threatened by the SSP, the town’s senior police officer. His son, Mushir Beg, was mercilessly beaten up and arrested briefly.
A Mathura Mosque, Alamgir Masjid, remains in Hindu hands despite a court order in 1973 in Muslims’ favour. Police refuse to concede to the request of local Muslims to place a picket at the place in order to enable Muslims to enter the usurped mosque.
A Hindu had tried to blow up the Idgah mosque last Eidul Fitr. The police guarding the mosque caught him but he was later branded ‘insane’ and let off. The U.P. government has taken stringent security measures now and posted many Muslim officers at Mathura. But how long can this last? The VHP believes in long-term campaigns. The demolition of Babri was achieved in a decade-long campaign. With any political tilt in Hindutva favour at the Centre or even in UP, the administration will not demonstrate the current vigilance.
The agreement between the Shahi Idgah Trust, and the Sri Krishna Janamasthan Seva Sang
We, Shri Deodhar Shastri, Up Mantri of and authorized by the Krishna Janamsthan Seva Sangh, Mathura, as first party,
And Sri Shah Mir Malih and Shri Abdul Ghaffar, advocate, the representatives of the Shahi Masjid Idgah Trust, Mathura, as the second party,
Under the Trust’s Resolution No.2 dated 8-10-1968,
In order to settle the long-standing disputes between the Shri Krishna Janamasthan Sangh and the Shahi Masjid Idgah Trust and the so-called Ghosi [milkmen] tenants and licensees of the second party; we under suggestion of the members of both Hindu and Muslim communities, have reached an agreement, henceforth, to settle our bilateral disputes and avoid cases against each other.
The following agreement agreed to by the second party, i.e., Shahi Masjid Idgah Trust, has the permission of the Uttar Pradesh Central Waqf Board vide their express letter No. 2876, 43 CIR dated 9-9-1968 and Shah Mir Malih and Shri Abdul Ghaffar Advocate have been authorized to get the Agreement implemented under their resolution No.2 in the meeting of 8-10-1968.
Similarly, the first party, i.e., the Shri Krishna Janamasthan Seva Sangh, has also accepted the agreement at its meeting of 25-8-1968 and authorized Shri Deodhar Shastri to get the agreement implemented.
Since the following agreement shall take some time for its full implementation, we are therefore getting a written ‘ikrarnama’ [deed of agreement] registered. Hence, we the representatives of both the parties concerned, freely and after a full-decision as well as by the consensus of both the parties, i. e., the Shri Krishna Janamasthan Seva Sangh and the Shahi Masjid Idgah Trust, are getting the ‘ikrarnama ’ registered. Henceforth, we will have to abide by the following agreement and it will be our duty to implement the agreement.
- The northem and southern walls of Idgah’s ‘kuchchi kursi’ shall be extended towards the eastern side, up to the Railway land. The expenses shall be borne by the Masjid Trust.
- Outside the northern and southern walls, the area occupied by Muslim ghosis shall be evacuated on behalf of the Trust and handed over to the Janamasthan Seva Sangh. Thereafter, the Trust or the ghosis shall not be entitled to claim the above mentioned portion of the land.
Similarly, the portion of land lying inside the northern and southern walls shall be the trust’s property. Hence there shall be no claim on this land on the part of the Seva Sangh.
- In the west-northern corner of Idgah kuchchi kursi, a portion of land is occupied by the Seva Sangh (shown in the map ABCD). The Trust shall acquire the kuchchi kursi and it shall become the Trust’s property.
- The controversial debris of the stairs on the southern side, for which there are cases filed in the court, shall be cleared by the Trust by 15 October 1968. Thereafter, the portion shall be the Seva Sangh’s property.
- The houses built by Muslim ghosis out of the northern and southern walls under settlement with the Trust shall be evacuated on behalf of the Trust and handed over to the Seva Sangh.
Only after the completion of evacuation, the Trust shall be entitled to get the walls constructed.
The Trust, moreover, shall not open doors, windows, pinjars etc., nor any water outlets (drains) in the proposed wall, towards the Seva Sangh. The Seva Sangh too shall not do any such thing against the Idgah.
- The [water] outlets (parnalas) of Idgah flowing already westward of the Janamasthan shall be removed and turned towards Idgah by piping. The expenses shall be borne by the Seva Sangh. During the laying of the pipe, a representative of the Janamasthan shall be present.
- A portion of the railway land in front of Idgah’s northern and southern walls which is going to be acquired by the Janamasthan Seva Sangh, after acquiring the land, the Janamasthan Seva Sangh shall transfer that portion to the Trust which falls inside the north and south walls of the Idgah.
- The portion of land in front of kuchchi kursi towards the Eastern side (shown in the map EFGHIJKL) and in the west northern-corner (shown in the map ABCD) which is left by the Seva Sangh in favour of the Trust is shown in oblique line in the map.
- The cases against each other shall be withdrawn according to the above agreement.
- Both the parties shall have the right to appeal to the court for getting the agreement implemented if either party deviates from the agreement.
Hence, this agreement reached in writing by the consent of both the parties.
Date of writing: 12 October 1968.
Boundary of Masjid Idgah Shahi:
East: Railway line
West: Chabutra Janamasthan
North: Ground Janamasthan
South: Ground Janamasthan Banke Katra, Keshawdeve Mathura town
Writer: Navnit Lal Sharma
Signature: Deodhar Shastri
Signature: Abdul Ghaffar
Signature: Md. Shah Mir Malih
(Source of the above document: The Hindu, 16 August 1995)
Source of the article: Muslim & Arab Perspective 2:11-12 (1995) pp. 24-30
The Mathura Idgah case By Syed Iftikhar Ahmad
The case of the Mathura Idgah is different from that of the Babari Masjid. The problem was settled there through an agreement reached between Hindus and Muslims on 12 October 1968. It was only after that agreement that a magnificent temple ‘Bhagwat Bhawan’ could be constructed.
It is interesting that Vishnu Hari Dalmia, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) president who is also a member of the Shri Krishna Janmasthan Sewa Sangh, which had signed the agreement
with the Shahi Masjid Idgah Trust, now claims that the VHP would liberate the Shri Krishna Janmasthan of Mathura after Ayodhya.
Before this agreement the two communities were clashing over the disputed place. Cases were also pending before the court. This had also led to the eruption of communal riots several times in Mathura. Influential people of the town had helped reach the agreement. This agreement had been approved by certain Hindu organisations at the national level and U.P. Sunni Waqf Board. Following are the points of the agreement:
- That the Idgah boundary, north and south to the kachchi kursi (plinth) be extended eastward upto the Railway line. Construction of both the walls be done by the Shahi Masjid Jdgah Trust.
- The area beyond the southern and northern boundaries of the Idgah where there are settlements of Ghosis [milkmen] and other Muslims, shall be vacated and handed over to the Shri Krishana Janmasthan Sewa Sangh by the Shahi Masjid Idgah Trust on its own responsibility and the Trust or Ghosis or other Muslims of the area shall have no right of title or any claim to the area and the property rights shall then rest in the first party.
Similarly, the Shri Krishna Janmasthan Sewa Sangh shall have no rights to the title of the area within the southern and northern wall of the area and its title shall rest in the second party.
- That in the area towards northern and western corners from the kachchi kursi whose title rests in the Shri Krishna Janmasthan Sewa Sangh and which has been shown as A.B.C.D. in the map, the Shahi Masjid Idgah Trust shall make the kachchi kursi in square shape and its title shall rest in the Shahi Masjid Idgah Trust.
- That in the south where the rubble is piled and upon which a title suit is pending, the Shahi Masjid Idgah Trust shall remove the rubble from the area by 15 October 1968 and its possession shall be transferred to the Shri Krishna Janmasthan Sewa Sangh.
- Houses of Ghosis or the Muslim population beyond the northern and southern boundaries, whose titles have been acquired by the trust, shall be handed over to the Shri Krishna Janmasthan Sewa Sangh after getting them vacated by 15 October 1968. The construction of the walls shall start only when the above area will be handed over to the Sewa Sangh. No doors, windows or any other such construction by the Trust be made in these walls towards the area held by the Sewa Sangh. No conduct of orifice shall be constructed by the Trust towards the area belonging to the Janmashtan. Similarly, no such thing shall be done by the Shri Krishna Janmasthan Sewa Sangh.
- The conduct in the western wall of the Idgah towards Shri Krishna Janmasthan Sewa Sangh shall be diverted towards the kachchi kursi of the Idgah by filling pipe and therefrom cemented drain be constructed upto the eastern outlets of the mosque by the Shri Krishna Janmasthan Sewa Sangh at its own expenses. The help of the representative of the Trust shall be taken while laying the pipes in the walls of the Idgah. Advice of the representative of the Trust shall be binding in this regard.
- After acquiring the area belonging to the Railways by the Sewa Sangh, the area in front of the Idgah coming within the northern and the southern boundaries will be handed over to the Trust and it shall be a property of the second party.
- The area in front of the kachchi kursi shown in the map as E,F,G,H,I,J,K,L, and towards the north-west corner as A,B,C, and D, which have been given up by the Sewa Sangh in favour of the Trust shall be shown with marked lines on the map.
- After the completion of all conditions of the agreement, both parties shall endorse ‘Razinama’ [deed of mutual settlement), against the cases under trial.
- If any party fails to abide by the terms and conditions of this agreement, the other party shall have right to get it implemented through court or any other means. The other party shall then have no right of objection to it.
The agreement was signed on 12 October 1968 by Deo Dhar Shastri on behalf of the Shri Krishna Janmasthan and Muhammad Shah Meer Malik and Abdul Ghaffar on behalf of the Shahi Masjid Idgah Trust. The U.P. Sunni Waqf Board had consented to the agreement vide letter No. 2876/43, CIR, dated 9 August 1968. The Board had authorised Muhammad Shah Meer Malik and Abdul Ghaffar to enter into this agreement. Likewise, the Sewa Sangh had in its meeting held on 25 August 1968, had authorised Deo Dhar Shastri to sign on its behalf.
The Shri Krishna Janmasthan has been a historical place for the Hindus. According to the Hindu mythology stories, Deomaala, Bijrani, the great grandson of Shri Krishna, was the first to build a temple here. Afterwards, a magnificent temple is said to have been built here during the reign of Raja Vikramaditya in 400CE. Then Mathura was a centre of Hindu civilization and culture. Allegedly it was plundered by Mahmud Ghaznawi in 1017 CE and later demolished, Mahmud Ghaznawi’s Mir Munshi (secretary) Aal-e Utnawi described it in his Tarikh-e Yamni.
According to Aal-e Utnawi, there was a grand beautiful temple in the heart of the town. People used to believe it to have been built by devtas instead of human beings. It was rebuilt during the reign of Maharaja Dev Pal in 1150. It is alleged to have been demolished again during the reign of Sikander Lodhi in the early 16th century.
After about 125 years, Raja Veer Singh of Orchcha rebuilt a temple during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Jehangir. It is said, its reconstruction had cost then Rs 3.5 million. The remains of this temple are said to still exist. Then it was known as the Jai Dev Mandir. The French traveller Latorenier and the Italian traveller Manucci have described it in their travelogues written in 1650.
It is alleged that in 1669 this temple was demolished during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and an Idgah was built at the very site. The East India Company took it over in 1830 and sold the land around it to Raja Patan Mal of Benares for Rs 1410.
Thereafter, the dispute over the ownership of the land around it continued for a long period. Moved by Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya’s plea, Jugal Kishore Birla purchased it. He set up a trust , Krishna Janmasthan Sewa Sangh on 21 February 1951 and handed over the charge of the land to it.
Ganesh Basu Deo Mavlankai, a former speaker of Parliament [Lok Sabha], was its first president. He was succeeded by M Anant Shyanam Ayangar, former governor of Bihar, also a former Speaker of Lok Sabha. The Dalmia family contributed a lot to its construction and is still controlling it.
When the construction of a magnificent temple at some distance from the disputed place began and the case pending in the court came in the way, both the communities signed the agreement. To provide legal protection to the agreement, it was not only verified in court but registered also with the appropriate authorities.
It is now clear that the VHP is putting peace, law and order of the entire nation to danger by raking up a dead issue even after the historic agreement.
It is now high time for the Muslims as well as other thinking historians and scholars that they break their impasse and let people in very language be kept informed of the real and correct historical position of all the monuments which are being said to be ‘disputed’ ones (R).
Muslim & Arab Perspectives 2:4-7 (1995) pp. 115-119