Lone mosque on Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar highway bulldozed

By TCN Special Correspondent,
Ahmedabad: A mosque on the highway connecting Ahmedabad with the state capital of Gandhinagar was demolished by the state government four days ago. It was the only mosque between the Sabarmati Ashram from where Mahatma Gandhi launched freedom struggle and Gandhinagar, a stretch of 25 kms.
Named as Fatima Masjid, it was built on a piece of land bought by a garage owner Haji Majidbhai Sheikh in 1975.

The authorities of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) did not issue any notice or a warning before carrying out demolition on December 13. However, they had issued notices to the garage owners and shopkeepers adjoining the mosque and asked them to vacate the premises as these, according to notices, were to be demolished for widening of the road for extending Bus Rapid Transit System(BRTS) for providing fast and better public transport services.
“When we asked the AMC staffers engaged in demolishing the garages if they intended to pull down the mosque also, they said there was no instructions to demolish the mosque’’, said Nasiruddin Ahmedbhai Sheikh, whose garage was also pulled down for widening the road.
“But after demolishing the garages and shops, about 45 in all belonging to both Muslims and Hindus, the AMC workers directed the bulldozer towards the mosque’’, Sheikh said, narrating how the municipal staffers kept the Muslims in dark about their plans to bring down the mosque.

“They did not give time even for removing the materials kept in the mosque and the living room of the Imam. We could barely remove the copies of the Holy Quran but other things got buried under the debris’’, said another garage owner Gaffar.
“As it was 6.30 p.m. when most of the Muslims had left the place and the demolition squad was accompanied by about 150 armed police personnel, we could not do anything to prevent the incident as it was done all of a sudden’’, said Gaffar.
Sheikh and Gaffar said that they had the records of the land in the name of Haji Majidbhai and showed it to the municipal commissioner I P Gautam. Gautam reportedly told them that he was told that there were only shops and garages and he did not know that there was a mosque as well that came in the road widening project.

Sheikh and Gaffar, through a written memorandum, have demanded that AMC rebuild the mosque on its own expenses either at the same place or at another place in the area. But they said Gautam did not give any concrete assurance.
The mosque was used generally by Muslims working in the Oil and National Gas Corporation’s regional headquarter and Torrent Power Limited’s power plant as also by Muslims having garages for repairing bikes and cars in the vicinity.
It had a capacity to accommodate 250 persons for prayers. It remained full to its capacity during Friday noon prayers. However, the attendance during five-time daily prayers remained thin as there are no permanent Muslim residences in the area.