BHOPAL: A heritage structure which was reportedly the genesis of the communal violence that erupted in the old Bhopal city late on Tuesday evening is not a mosque, but a heritage gate, archaeological experts claimed on Wednesday.
A team of the Madhya Pradesh Archaeology Department headed by technical assistant Dr Ahmad Ali visited the government Hamidia Hospital campus and studied the heritage structure, which according to claims by the minority community was a mosque.
“We did a detailed examination of the structure and concluded that it’s not a mosque, but a heritage gate. A marble plaque at the structure justifies our conclusion, as the plaque dating back to 1919 mentions 994 people from Bhopal taking part in World War I, out of which 34 died. These people crossed through the heritage gate which turned into a commemorative gate in 1919,” Ali told The New Indian Express. “We visited the site twice on Wednesday and concluded that it’s a heritage gate which could be 200 years old. But its certainly not a mosque,” said Ali.
During the ongoing new building construction work at the hospital campus, the heritage structure had become fully visible. The residents of the communally-sensitive area claimed it was a mosque. Since the last three days, members of the minority community had even started offering namaz near the structure, which was opposed by members of another community. The members of the other community had subsequently announced holding a maha-arti at a temple outside the hospital campus, but officials denied them permission.
Late on Tuesday, after the evening namaz, rumours were rife on social media about the heritage structure inside the hospital campus having been desecrated, after which a large number of people gathered at the spot. The other group was firm on holding the religious ritual outside the temple in the area. Subsequently there was a face-off between the groups, resulting in stone pelting and arson targeting vehicles.
Late on Tuesday night, top Muslim leaders met with SP North Arvind Saxena at the police control room and decided not to allow holding prayers at the heritage structure till the end of the month of Ramzan.