SRIRANGAPATNA: In the backdrop of claims that a Shivling was found at Gyanvapi Mosque, hundreds of VHP and Bajrang Dal activists from across Mandya district in Karnataka laid siege to the fort town of Srirangapatna, around 125 km from Bengaluru, on Saturday, demanding that they be allowed to offer pujas at the Mula Anjaneyaswamy temple, which they claimed is situated near the west gate of Jamia Masjid. The protest in Tipu Sultan’s capital also came when a controversy is raging over secular credentials of the Muslim ruler.
The protesters said that the 18th-century ruler razed a Hanuman temple situated at the spot and built Jamia Masjid. On Saturday, the activists were stopped from heading towards the masjid as Deputy Commissioner Ashwathi clamped prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The police beefed up security and barricaded all the roads leading to the mosque, which is being maintained by the Archeological Survey of India. The protesting activists claimed that two of their workers managed to break through the security cordon and chant Hanuman Chalisa at the temple inside Jamia Masjid.
The Bajrang Dal had given a call for Srirangapatana Chalo and when they were stopped, they blocked the busy Bengaluru- Mysuru and Mysuru-Pandavapura highways, demanding that they be allowed to proceed towards the mosque. Mandya Superintendent of Police P Yatish warned the protesters that anyone violating the prohibitory orders and trying to enter the historic town would be arrested. Later, the protesters were moved to a nearby town Kirangur, clearing the traffic on the highways.
Despite the commotion, Muslim clerics conducted classes for students at the madrasa situated on the premises of the mosque. Opposing this, Hindu activists shouted slogans against the district administration and the police and accused the government of allowing the madrasa to function within the mosque. VHP Mandya district secretary Sunil Kumar alleged that inmates of the madrasa and others have disfigured the motifs on the stones to destroy any evidence of a Hanuman temple.
He said the district administration should conduct videography of the Hanuman temple, like it was done at Gyanvapi mosque, and submit a report within 15 days. Assistant Commissioner Shivananda Murthy said they have sought clarification as to whether Jamia Masjid has been included among Wakf properties. “We have written to the Union Government on the functioning of the madrasa at the ASI property,” he added. On the video of activists chanting Hanuman Chalisa near the masjid, SP Yatish said police personnel was present near the mosque and no one was allowed to offer any puja.