Facing a contempt threat from the high court, the DDA – after several failed attempts – succeeded in razing the mosque. The demolition had engraged the Muslim community. A crowd of over 200 men and women gathered at the site Thursday but were prevented from offering prayers at the site, following which they turned violent and torched a bus.
Advocate R.K. Saini said that the DDA will submit its report Friday, as it was listed for Jan 14. The petition will be taken up by Justic G.S Sistani.
Peeved over the encroachment affecting their colony’s development, the Jangpura Residents Welfare Association in 2006 approached the court protesting the failure of municipal authorities to remove illegal structures. The petitioners had argued that they could not build a community centre and a park in their locality due to the encroachment.
But, the court, on an assurance by the authorities, disposed of the petition in 2008. “The matter was then referred to Delhi government’s religious committee which gave its approval for demolishing the structure in October 2009, and the case was then forwarded to Delhi Lt Governor Tejendra Khanna, who gave his nod soon after,” said Saini, the lawyer for the RWA.
In 2010, DDA tried demolishing the mosque six times, but was unable to do so due to lack of adequate police protection.
Frustrated with the lack of action, the RWA again moved the court in October 2010. The high court then issued a contempt notice against Khanna, the DDA vice-chairman and the commissioner (Land and Management) and asked them to submit a compliance report within four weeks.
“Since the next date of hearing is Jan 14, we moved ahead with the demolition plan,” said DDA spokesperson Neemo Dhar.
Meanwhile the state Wakf Board claimed the land on which the structure stood belonged to it.
“This land is wakf property and we have to moved to challenge this demolition tomorrow (Friday),” Mohammad Arif, an officer of Delhi Wakf Board said.
However Saini told IANS that the Wakf Board is not the party to the case. “If they approach the court than its upto the court to decide on their petition,” he said.
This is not the only piece of DDA land acquired illegally. There are at least 350 religious encroachments on DDA land at present, said officials. As per an internal DDA survey carried out in 2010, a total of 39.38 acres of land has been encroached upon by religious structures, mostly in east Delhi.
The MCD has been trying to prevent such encroachments. “The MCD commissioner has directed deputy commissioners to ensure that no new religious encroachments come up on MCD land,” said press and information director Deep Mathur.