A local administration in Uttar Pradesh has defied a state high court order and bulldozed a mosque, The Guardian reported.
The mosque, in the city of Ram Sanehi Ghat in Uttar Pradesh, is a six-decade structure.
On Monday, police and security services moved into the area and cleared it of people, then brought in bulldozers and demolished the mosque. Debris was then thrown into a river. Security services have been deployed to prevent anyone coming within a mile of where the mosque stood.
Maulana Abdul Mustafa, who is on the mosque committee, told The Guardian that the mosque was “hundreds of years old” and that “thousands of people have been coming here five times a day to offer namaz [prayer]”.
“All Muslims were scared, so no one went near the mosque or dared to protest when the mosque was being demolished. Even today, several dozen people are leaving their homes and hiding in other areas out of the fear of the police.”
Adarsh Singh, a district magistrate, said: “I do not know any mosque. I know there was an illegal structure. The Uttar Pradesh high court declared it illegal. That’s why the regional senior district magistrate took action. I will not say anything else.
The demolition was in violation of a high court order issued on 24 April, which stated that the mosque should be protected from any eviction or demolition until 31 May, the British newspaper reported.
The mosque’s presence has been contested by the local administration, which on 15 March issued a “show cause” notice to the mosque committee asking it to explain how the building’s location was chosen and citing an intention to demolish it on the grounds that it was an illegal structure.
The mosque committee sent a detailed response, including documents demonstrating the building had an electricity connection from 1959, but the local administration did not take the response on to official record.