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Karnataka: Tensions rise in Bidar after puja at heritage madrassa

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Karnataka: Tensions rise in Bidar after puja at heritage madrassa

The Mahmud Gawan Madrassa in Bidar, Karnataka.

The Mahmud Gawan Madrassa in Bidar, Karnataka. | Photo Credit: GOPICHAND T_

According to police, nine people have been booked after a complaint was lodged for trespassing.

A group of Hindu activists barged into the premises of the Mahmud Gawan madrassa in Karnataka’s Bidar and performed puja in the early hours of October 6. Tension gripped the town, which lies in north-eastern Karnataka, after a video of the incident went viral on social media. According to sources, members of a Dussehra procession passing by entered the premises of the 15th century madrassa, a protected monument whose maintenance falls under the purview of the Archaeological Survey of India.

Eyewitnesses have revealed that the group of activists entered the premises in the presence of police. The issue gained traction after a video of the incident was tweeted by Asaduddin Owaisi, member of Lok Sabha from Hyderabad and president of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM). According to Mahesh Meghannavar, Additional Superintendent of Police in Bidar, nine people have been booked after a complaint was lodged for trespassing. Security was also heightened as protesters gathered at the site demanding action to be taken against the trespassers.

The madrassa was constructed in 1472 by Mahmud Gawan, the prime minister of the Bahmani Sultanate during the reign of Alauddin Shah Bahmani (r. 1436-58) as a seminary for students who came from far-off lands to study here. Bidar was the capital of the Bahmani dynasty which ruled the Deccan in the 14th and 15th centuries. According to architectural historian Helen Philon, the architecture of the monumental structure, “is deeply indebted to the Timurid architectural traditions of Central Asia and is unique in India.”

Over the past year, tensions over historical monuments have been ratcheted up in this part of the State, also known as Kalyana Karnataka. In March, Bharatiya Janata Party politicians along with members of other Sangh Parivar organisations such as the Sri Rama Sene made a concerted effort to bulldoze their way into a 14th century-era dargah (Sufi shrine) of Hazrat Shaikh Alauddin Ansari in the town of Aland in Kalaburagi district.

In May and June this year, a few Lingayat seers backed by Hindutva groups staked a claim to an 18th century-era dargah in Basavakalyan in Bidar district known as the Peer Pasha Bungalow.

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