Controversy erupts in Bhatkal over ‘Devinagar’ board placement near Makkah Masjid

09:53PM Tue 16 Jan, 2024

Bhatkal: Tensions flared on Tuesday following an attempt to install a Devinagar board near the Makkah Masjid at Second Cross on Jali Road in Bahtkal. Despite authorities denying permission, protestors were advised to submit a written memorandum to the Jali Panchayat for further consideration.

The dispute began on Sunday when a stone board outside the Makkah Masjid was altered to read "Devi Nagar," accompanied by a pole. Representatives of the mosque alleged that Sangh Parivar workers intentionally aimed to raise saffron flags outside, a move met with strong opposition. Early Monday morning, under police supervision, the pole was removed.

Expressing dissatisfaction, Sangh Parivar workers gathered to protest the removal, but the police convinced them to disperse, promising a meeting on Tuesday morning at the Tahsildar office to address their concerns.

In the Tuesday meeting with Jali Panchayat councilors chaired by the Tahsildar, it was unanimously decided not to allow any board or pole installation near the mosque, maintaining the status quo. Panchayat members highlighted potential political motives behind the tensions, urging authorities to prevent such disturbances, especially in the run-up to parliamentary elections.

Despite the agreed-upon meeting, workers insisting on installing the board regrouped outside Makkah Masjid, expressing a willingness to write "Devi Nagar" without hoisting a flag. As they attempted installation, the police intervened, leading to verbal clashes. Senior police officials were present during the confrontation.

Additional SP CT Jaya Kumar urged protestors to submit their demands in writing or through a memorandum to the Tehsildar and the Panchayat. In response, Sangh Parivar and BJP workers argued that the mosque's construction, alongside a madrassa, was illegal, advocating for legal action.

Failing in their attempt to install the board, protestors marched to the Jalipatan Panchayat office, submitting a memorandum claiming the mosque's illegality and demanding legal action. Meanwhile, BJP leaders, in a press conference near the Jali Panchayat, threatened action against other allegedly illegal buildings within its limits if the board installation was not permitted.