MUMBAI: Before the 1992-93 communal riots in Mumbai, communal elements had organized campaigns against Friday prayers on streets in various areas of the city.
This campaigns gained strength after the sad incident of the demolition of Babri Masjid on December 6,1992 in Ayodhya, when Maha-Aartis were organized in the city. As the Sri-Krishna Commission has pointed, at many places the crowd gathered in the name of Maha-Aartis turned into a rioting mob.
It seems that the government has not learnt lessons from the past. After the communal riots, it was suggested that the government must grant more FSIs to all the religious places.
Certainly more FSI to just Mosques may exhibit another device of agitation to the communal elements. Fact remains that Mosques in the city face space crunches due to Islamic teachings of Mass prayers on every Friday.
The older as well as smaller mosques in the city, some of them decades and in a few cases centuries old, cannot cope up with the rapidly increasing population.
This is the reason that at many places Muslims are forced to offer Friday prayers on the streets. Communal elements have time and again made false propaganda that Muslims are showing their power and arrogance by blocking streets and roads.
For such malicious act, the government’s faulty policy and lethargy can also be not condoned.
Need was felt after the riots of 1992-93 to raise FSI of all religious places, yet no comprehensive or concrete steps were taken by the government to overcome this which has forced the Muslim community to offer prayers on the streets till date.
Construction of Mosques difficult:
Another factor which is worsening the situation in the city is that development control act has made it very difficult to fulfill all the norms and conditions of construction of a mosque in the country.
It requires clearances and permissions from a number of government departments which is almost impossible to fulfill for the common trustees and office bearers of the Mosques.
Late Muslim leader Maulana Ziauddin Bukhari, who was killed in April 1993, once told this writer that in Mumbai, it is very easy to open a beer bar in Mumbai as it requires less number of permissions and clearances but it is very difficult to construct a Mosque by getting all necessary permissions from the authorities.
He was the founder of Millat Nagar, an upscale housing colony of Muslims near Lokhandwala in Andheri.
This colony has one of the most beautiful Mosques in the city inspired by Mughal Architecture with a modern touch.
Maulana Ziauddin Bukhari, at the time of inauguration of this Mosque in 1986 said that the Millat Nagar Mosque which is named as ‘Masjid As-Salaam’, is the first ever Mosque in Mumbai post-Independence(1947), which has been constructed and registered abiding all the rules and regulations laid by the Government and got clearances as a Mosque.
He also said that having influential Political connections as well as his close proximity to the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra Mr. Sharad Pawar, he managed to clear all hurdles for getting permission for the mosque which otherwise wouldn’t have been possible.
He also said that post 1947, all the new Mosques in the city were constructed as Madarasas or Islamic schools which require less permissions compared to Mosques. Indeed it is surprising that one can open a beer bar easily in this cosmopolitan city but to construct a Mosque, with all permissions is much difficult which still persists even today.
Mr.Sagheer Dange, the first deputy Mayor of Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation confirmed that the construction of a Mosque with all requirements fulfilled has become more difficult. He said he was a student at Anjuman-e-Islam School, CST when late Maulana Bukhari was his teacher.
Sagheer Ahmad Dange is affiliated to Thane Rural Muslim Welfare Organization which manages a large number of Mosques and Madarsas in Thane rural areas.
He said that Maulana Bukhari constructed the first ever Mosque with all clearances and permissions in Mumbai and he constructed the second ever in Nalasopara, by acquiring all the permissions and fulfilling every government norm.
Even his was not an easy task, but being close to the then Chief Minister Manohar Joshi, who extended full cooperation, it was made possible.
”I had the support of many influential politicians, but even then I had to knock the doors of more than 100 officers to get the proposal of a Mosque at Nalasopara cleared.
Increasing population is eventually creating more space crunch in the city forcing city muslims to offer their prayers on streets. With no effective step taken by the government to tackle this problem, is the government giving another chance to communal forces to spread false propaganda and start campaign against Namaz on streets?
Muslims of the city ask.