Rajasthan: 4 Held for Setting Mosque on Fire, Among Accused Is Alwar BJP Leader

The mosque had been out of use until a few months ago and locals had recently resumed prayers there.

Alwar, Rajasthan: Four people have been arrested after a mosque in Bahadurpur of Rajasthan’s Alwar, which locals say is several years old, was set on fire on June 20. Among the accused is a local Bharatiya Janata Party leader.

Police have registered a first information report against 50 local men, mentioning sections 143, 153-A, 295-A, 427, 436, 504, and 506.

Fourteen of the accused are named in the FIR – Raman Gulati, Bhavik Joshi, Raghuveer Saini, Manohar Lal Saini, Girdhari Lal Joshi, Avtar Sardar, Ratan Saini, Babulal Saini, Khusi Gurjar, Braham Muni, Subhash, Kailash, Parmod, and Manohar.

The Wire found out that one of the accused Raman Gulati is not only a member of the Bhartiya Janta Party but was also a former sub-district head of BJP’s Alwar division.

Raman Gulati in a BJP poster.

The mosque had been out of use until a few months ago and locals had recently resumed prayers there. On June 20, at 3 pm, a crowd allegedly gathered and set fire to the mosque, leading to the destruction of prayer mats and curtains. The attackers also shattered the glass windows of the building.

The FIR states that Raman and other co-accused allegedly chanted provocative slogans. A local, Javed Khan, says he heard the accused people chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’. They also made derogatory remarks against Muslims, he claimed.

Locals said police were prompt at registering the FIR and that residents are keen to not let communal tensions exacerbate in the area. Sher Mohammed, a local, told The Wire that with assembly elections approaching their fear was that communal sentiments could be stoked in this manner for electoral gains.

The hilltop mosque is believed to be on Waqf land.

Molana Hanif who was Alwar district’s Waqf Board chairman from 1997 to 2002 and also a member of the Waqf since 1990 said, “According to the 1965 survey, the Gazette Notification has it that the Syed Shah Jamal’s Dargah and mosque are on this land.”

Another survey in which Hanif participated took place in 1995. The survey states that land is registered against its own unique number, he said.

Superintendent of police Suresh Khinchi said police have asked both parties to not touch or try to make changes to the structure in the aftermath of the incident.