Fact-finding team alarmed by claims that 15th century Gujarat dargah was originally a Hindu temple
The matter came to light in October 2021 when a group of people entered Roza Rozi dargah, an ASI site situated along banks of Vatrak river, about 40 km from Ahmedabad
Will Gujarat also see demands to replace mosques and dargahs with Hindu temples? It would seem so if a new fact-finding team conclusion is any indication. Apprehending the “danger” of communal conflagration, it has cited claims that a 15th century dargah was originally a Hindu temple – allegedly quite on line with what has been happening in UP following the Supreme Court verdict on Babri Mosque.
The matter, the team says, came to light in October 2021, when a group of people entered the Roza Rozi dargah, an Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) site situated in Sojali village along the banks of Vatrak river, about five kilometres from Mahemdabad town in Kheda district, and 40 km from Ahmedabad. A small temple-like structure, “allowed” to be built in 2014 inside the dargah compound, is said to be the reason behind the wild claim.
The group played music on loudspeaker, placed a photo of a Hindu Goddess (Matahji) inside the dargah and worshipped it – all of it captured in a video and circulated widely on social media, attracting outrage from the Muslim community, said the report prepared by the fact-finding team consisting of Dr Ajaz Shaikh, Hozefa Ujjaini, Samina Malek, Khairunnisha Pathan, Latif Malek and Manish Manjulaben.
“This is not an isolated incident where a dargah or a mosque has been claimed to be a place of worship of Hindu deities”, the report asserts, calling it part of a “disturbing trend” widely prevalent in Gujarat even before the Babri was allowed to be replaced by Ram Temple.
Citing incidents of “vandalization and destruction” of non-Hindu heritage, even as “undermining” the syncretic tradition prevailing in the state, the report says that in Ahmedabad, during the 2002 riots, the mazaar of the famous poet Wali Gujarati or Wali Dakhani was razed and the city authorities built a road on top of it.
Then in 2006, Vadodara city faced communal flare-up after razing of the ancient 14th century dargah of Sayed Chisti Rashiuddin, a medieval Sufi saint. And in 2019, in Dholka, “anti-social elements” spread the rumour that Tanka Masjid, situated in Dholka, about 100 km from Ahmedabad, was earlier a temple. The narrative led to communal frenzy in the area.
The Dholka monument, according to the report, was also targeted through a Twitter hashtag #ReclaimTemple, where a post claimed that the Tanka Masjid of Dholka is a Hindu temple. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad submitted a memorandum that the site previously was a Bhim kitchen and Pandavas’ school. Following civil society intervention, police provided protection to the masjid.
The report quotes Gujarati writer Saroop Dhruv, who has extensively written on different archaeological monuments, to point out that the Roza Rozi monument was built in the era of Sultan Mahmud Begada, a follower of Sufi saints. “Begda’s views are reflected in the art and structure of the established architectural sites during his rule. Roza Rozi is one such example”, it says.
“The site reflects the rich composite culture in India where Hindus and Muslims both come to pray and perform rituals according to their belief”, the report notes, giving details Rozi Roza: “During the reign of Begada, Hazrat Mubarak Saiyyad was a minister and his son Hazrat Pir Minar Saiyyad built the Roza as a memorial to his father. The Roza is also the resting place of Pir Minar Saiyyad and other members of the family. It is decorated with domes, arches, columns, and finely carved stone grills.”
It continues, “A little ahead on the opposite side is Rozi, which houses the memorials of the wives and other women of the family. The Rozi is a simpler structure in brick with some work on the inside of the domes. The original structure had two minarets of which one is still standing. One can see some work on the minaret.”
According to the report, on the occasion of Navratri, on Maha Ashtami (Atham of Navratri) October 13, 2021, a group of people, including women, adolescent girls and boys entered the gate of the Roza Rozi dargah under the pretext of offering puja in the small temple which came up in 2014 inside the compound of the dargah.
The mob, after entering the compound of the dargah, instead of going towards the temple, which is situated on the back side of the dargah in the same compound, entered the dargah. It danced throughout the procession, stopped in front of the dargah and played music on DJ set.
Meanwhile, the report says, “Some people from the mob entered the dargah and placed a photo of Hindu Goddess Khodiyar and performed aarti and sprinkled gulaal and lit a lamp (diya). The video of the whole incident was recorded and it went viral on the social media.”
Different groups, political parties and Muslim leaders raised the issue and submitted memorandum to the collector and the superintendent of police to take action. Officials, including the collector, visited the site. The police uninstalled the Goddess’ photo the next day and ensured cleaning up of gulaal in the dargah. Protection was given to the site.
Pointing out that a temple-like structure, which came up in 2014 inside the compound of the dargah, is dedicated to Goddess Khodiyaar, the report says, ever since the locals have been “claiming that the idol of the Goddess came up mystically at the site of the temple.”
Claiming that this marked the origin of the dispute and narrative, which led to stating that Roza Rozi was originally a temple, the report says, “Pooja began being offered in the small temple on various occasions. Meanwhile, a separate entrance was allocated to access temple in the compound. Devotees wanting to access the temple offered puja began using this entrance.”
However, on the day of the incident, the mob entered the compound from another gate of the monument, and according to the caretaker (mujavar), he allowed them to enter in as he thought they were going to offer puja in the temple. The mob stopped in front of the dargah, played DJ and danced. Amongst them, one person went inside the dargah and performed pooja after placing Goddess’ photo.
A Darbar (Rajput)-dominated village, Sojali has a population of 3,000, including 12 Muslim families and the three families of caretakers of the dargah. Following an earlier communal tension, a few Muslims left the village and settled in Mahemdabad town. However, they often come to the village to take care of their land.
The fact-finding team, following interview with the caretaker and villagers observes, “It appears that the incident that took place on October 13, 2021 was planned and provoked by the supremacist groups to disturb peace… It seems that the incident was part of a larger conspiracy by supremacist groups.”
Pointing to the presence of BJP MLA Arjun Singh in a programme prior to the incident, the report says that while that may not be “direct evidence” of hm being behind the provocation, but the “coincidence can’t be dismissed entirely.”
The small temple came up in 2014, and there is “no ancient evidence” of presence of any Hindu temple in writing in any literature. “The land of the site is very huge and people with vested interests have an eye on the land for economic benefits. The communal dispute could be a smokescreen to capture the land”, it underlines.
“Muslims have their own lands in the village. Supremacist groups are taking advantage of economic conditions of local villagers. They want Muslims completely washed out from the village and capture their property”, it added.
(This article originally appeared on www.counteriew.net)