Idgah Maidan case: HC orders status quo; ‘land should be used as playground’

The Chamrajpet Idgah Maidan in Bangalore, used by Muslims for offering prayers, had been at the centre of controversy after pro-Hindu groups demanded that the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi be celebrated at the site

Karnataka High Court, Bengaluru-Mysuru expressway, toll collection, fast tag system, boom barriers
Karnataka High Court also stated that because of the failure in the fast tag system, the commuters were facing difficulty and were asked to take up the service road | File Image

The Karnataka High Court has asked the state government and Karnataka State Board of Auqaf, to maintain status quo on the controversial Chamrajpet Idgah Maidan in Bengaluru, in an interim order.

Justice Hemant Chandanagoudar passed the order on Thursday and said that the ground should be used as a playground and for offering of prayers by Muslims twice a year – during Ramadan and Bakrid – only, till the court decides on the dispute.

The court clarified that the Muslim community cannot offer prayers at the site on any other day.

The next hearing has been scheduled for September 23.

Also read: Tricolour hoisted at controversial Idgah Maidan, Bengaluru; dispute over land continues

The Karnataka State Board of Auqaf, a statutory body formed under the Waqf Act, had earlier moved the high court challenging the government order on the land belonging to the Revenue Department on August 6.

The court also observed that there shall not be a scope of creating any unnecessary controversy or any untoward incidents.

The ruling BJP in Karnataka was in a dilemma over the Hindutva activists’ demand for celebrating the Ganesh festival at the controversial ground in Chamarajpet.  Before the high court  passed its interim order, state Revenue Minister R Ashok had said that he is seriously considering celebrating the Ganesh Chaturthi festival at the site.

A controversy erupted after Chamarajpet’s Idgah Maidan, turned into a sensitive communal issue due to the presence of politically-backed groups in the area. Earlier, the ground was used by Muslims for prayers during the festivals held by Mysore kings. The ground was used as a playground and for grazing cattle.

Recently, a local, pro-Hindu organisation argued that the land belongs to the Revenue Department. Local organisations also demanded that Independence Day and Ganesh Chaturthi festivals be celebrated on the property. The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, however, has claimed that 2 acres of the Idgah ground belongs to it.

The Nagarika Okkoota Samiti (citizens’ forum) has argued that the government has to allow all programmes, including Hindu festivals, on the ground. But, they will not allow goats and sheep to be sold in the area. At the same time, pro-Hindu groups were given a month by the government to intervene and solve the issue or face further consequences.

Also read: Karnataka no longer liberal, hijab issue has hijacked state’s reputation

However, the local administration took the help of both the Muslim and Hindu communities and celebrated Independence Day at the site in peaceful manner and amid tight security.

However, the situation flared up after BJP leaders wanted Ganesh Puja to be celebrated on the maidan, and local MLA Zameer Ahmed Khan opposed the idea.

The high court’s order at this juncture is crucial to maintain law and order in the area.