The historic Jamia Masjid in Srirangapatna in Mandya district of Karnataka is in the news again as a right wing Hindutva group submitted a petition to the Mandya Deputy Commissioner claiming there are Hindu idols in the Masjid located inside the Srirangapatna fort.
The right wing group sought permission from the Mandya authorities to conduct a pooja inside the mosque and urged the Bharatiya Janata Party led Karnataka government to issue orders to prevent prayers by Muslims.
The submission made by a right wing group called Narendra Modi Vichar Manch comes at a time when all eyes are on the Gyanpavi mosque in Uttar Pradesh. A local court recently ordered videography survey and sealing off of an area following claims that a shivling has been found buried under the structure.
This is not the first time that the Jamia Masjid has been at the centre of a controversy with Hindu groups in Karnataka. In January a seer was arrested for putting up a Facebook video calling for the demolition of the mosque, claiming it was originally a temple for the Hindu deity Hanuman.
HISTORY OF THE JAMIA MASJID IN SRIRANGAPATNA
Located inside the Srirangapatna fort, the Jamia Masjid is also called the Masjid-i-Ala and is said to have been built by Tipu Sultan in 1782, per a Persian language inscription found in the premises. The Srirangapatna which was built during the Vijayanagar empire was later taken over by Tipu Sultan, who is said to have made the fort his primary defence base. Tipu Sultan died at the fort during an attack by the British army.
Now maintained by the Archeological Survey of India, the mosque has two minarets and currently houses a madrassa.
Tipu Sultan, revered in history books as a king who went down fighting the British, has in recent times been termed as a bigot by Hindutva groups. The Bharatiya Janata Party in Karnataka which has in the past sung praises for Sultan, made a U-turn and accused him of being responsible for the deaths of thousands of Kodavas in Coorg and the forcible conversion of Catholic Christians in Mangalore.
Hindutva groups have staged protests rumours on a biopic being made on Tipu Sultan, not allowed celebrations of Tipu Jayanti on November 10 and pushed for changing the name of structures and roads named after him.
THE CURRENT CONTROVERSY
With Gyanpavi mosque in the news, a Hindutva group named after the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi Vichar Manch approached the Mandya Deputy Commissioner and submitted a plea asking for Hindus to pray inside the mosque. Their contention? The Jamia Masjid was allegedly once a Hanuman temple and that idols of Hindu deities can still be found buried inside.
The Narendra Modi Vichar Manch in their plea has also asked the authorities to stop the masjid being used for prayers.
According to a report in The Indian Express, CT Manjunath, state secretary of the Narendra Modi Vichar Manch said, “Documentary evidence of Tipu Sultan writing to a ruler in Persia, admitting that there was a Hanuman temple before the mosque was built; along with Hindu inscriptions on the pillars and walls support our stand. We request the administration to allow Hindus to offer prayers at the mosque.”
Manjunath also tweeted a video of the group submitting a written request to the Mandya authorities.
ಶ್ರೀರಂಗಪಟ್ಟಣ ಜಾಮಿಯಾ ಮಸೀದಿ ಮೂಲತಃ ಹನುಮಂತನ ದೇವಾಲಯ ಪೂಜೆ ಸಲ್ಲಿಸಲು ಅನುಮತಿ ಕೋರಿ ಮನವಿ pic.twitter.com/eXOjemnoNO
— C.T Manjunath BJP Mandya (@hnd_c) May 13, 2022
Manjunath told the Hindustan Times, “In Srirangapatna, Moodlu Bagilu Hanuman temple was demolished, and over it a Jama Masjid was built. There are Gopuras around it and even statues. They (district administration) should conduct a survey of this mosque the same way as it is happening in UP.”
SEVERAL ATTEMPTS BY HINDUTVA GROUPS TO LAY CLAIM ON JAMIA MASJID
The written submission by the Narendra Modi Vichar Manch is not the first time a Hindutva group has said that the Jamia Masjid was originally a Hanuman Temple.
In January 2022, a seer Rishi Kumaraswamy of Kalika Mutt was arrested by the police after he posted a video of himself demanding that the Srirangapatna Jamia Masjid be demolished just like the Babri masjid was brought down. According to news reports, Kumaraswamy in his video had alleged that the mosque was built by bringing down a temple and hence it should be taken down and a temple rebuilt.
Following Kumaraswamy’s statements and his arrest, several Hindu right wing groups made the same claim and threatened to “forcibly” take over the mosque. A January 2022 report in the Times of India quotes some Hindutva activists as saying, “The Jamia masjid has Hindu inscriptions on its pillars and walls. So it could not have been a masjid and it was built upon Sri Hanuman temple…”
Former Karnataka minister and BJP leader KS Eshwarappa who resigned from his post following allegations of corruption, also made similar comments in Hubbali this week. Media reports quoted Eshwarappa as saying, “Why was a temple shifted in Srirangapatna and a mosque built in its place? A total of 36,000 temples were destroyed by the Mughals. We will revive all of them.” He added, “Today, Muslims are also accepting that there was a Hanuman temple in Srirangapatna. During that time, they shifted the temple to the other side and saved the Hanuman temple, but why was the temple shifted? Why was a mosque built in its place? What does Congress say about this?” he questioned.
This article first appeared on boomlive.in