Delhi Riots: Muslims Give up Claim to Disputed Saharanpur Land as Gesture of Gratitude to Sikhs

In 2014, dispute over the land erupted in large scale violence and arson which had resulted in the deaths of three people and injured 33.

New Delhi: Muslim and Sikh communities have decided to put an end to a 10-year-old land dispute which had led to riots in Saharanpur in 2014 and resulted in three deaths. As a gesture of gratitude for help offered by Sikhs during the north east Delhi riots, the Muslim community has decided to forego its claim on a piece of land that had been purchased by the gurdwara management.

The dispute pertains to an incident that took place two decades ago when a gurdwara committee in the Kutubsher area purchased land around an existing Gurdwara with the objective of expanding the complex. After the acquisition, some old structures in the area were demolished including, allegedly, a mosque.

Things turned violent when, in July 2014, construction work to expand the gurdwara complex began. This led to large scale violence and arson which resulted in the deaths of three people and injured 33.

The matter subsequently reached the Supreme Court. But now the Muslim party has decided to forego its claim on the piece of land. Instead, they will be allotted land at another location nearby and the gurdwara management will pay for the construction of the mosque.

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“In view of the great service and support rendered by the Sikhs to Muslims in Delhi throughout the protests and most recently during the riots in Delhi, the Masjid committee in Saharanpur decided to give up its claim over the land as a token of gratitude and thanksgiving,” Nizam Pasha, who represented the Muslim side in the Supreme Court, told The Quint.

The petitioner, Moharram Ali, has also said that the gesture comes as a show of gratitude for the help and aid provided by the Sikh community to affected families in Delhi’s communal violence.

“Sikhs stand for humanity. They help people in need. The helped people affected by the communal violence in Delhi. This is God’s work,” he told The Quint.

Interestingly, it was Ali, who was accused of being the chief instigator in the 2014 violence and had even confessed to inciting the mob. Earlier in the week, Ali and several other Muslims joined the Sikhs when the construction work for the gurdwara extension began.

Apart from the sense of gratitude felt by the Muslim community, the efforts made for a truce by the district magistrate Alok Kumar Pandey, who had pushed for an amicable resolution, also played a role.