— Consider reading the article ‘Bhajan is haram in Islam’: How Muslim residents who purchased houses near Jalaram Bapa temple in Bharuch got them to stop Aarti on OpIndia website —
It all started in 2008 when Shaukat Mansuri purchased the house in Bahadur Buraj area of Soni Faliya, Bharuch. There is a Jalaram Bapa temple just across his place. The temple would play bhajans every evening from 6:30 PM to 8 PM. These bhajans were on regular speakers one has in their home. So the sound was never too loud to be a disturbance, just loud enough for all devotees who are visiting the temple to listen to them.
About three years back, he complained that the bhajans being played at the Jalaram Bapa temple is harassment to him. Mehul Patel, one of the residents of the area while speaking to OpIndia said that to oppose the bhajans and Aarti, Shaukat Mansuri’s son would bring huge DJ-style speakers and around same time put on Islamic preachings on the loud speaker.
That time also police got involved and blamed us Hindus only. Then the Disturbed Areas Act was implemented and more houses were also deceitfully sold, Patel informs.
Patel says that after moving to the locality in 2008, Shaukat Mansuri befriended nearby neighbours and gave them gifts of sarees and utensils to win their trust. However, in 2011 he filed a case against some people in neighbourhood in a bid to stop them from sitting in the community area.
In smaller towns in India, there are community places in each locality where neighbourhood kids play cricket and old men and women sit and spend their time talking about politics, singing bhajans and other such things. But Shaukat Mansuri then accused the people who would gather there of harassment. He even got the kids to stop playing cricket there.
“I come from a lower middle class background. When someone tore seat of his vehicle, he accused me of doing it and filed a case against me. It was so much of mental torture for months. I was studying and this was testing time for me,” he said.
Speaking about the current situation where Hindus in the locality have put up ‘for sale’ banners, Patel said, “We had filed an application to put up a speaker in the temple to the police. Just as they have speakers in Mosques. Mansuri got upset about the same and one day one of the boys who goes to the temple for preparation was stopped. Mansuri and three of his other Muslim neighbours, who are also his relatives, approached police and filed an FIR. We had registered a complaint against this.”
In the application, the residents said that every evening they play bhajans for about 30 minutes to an hour. The residents accused that Shaukat Mansuri, Iqbal Mansuri, Shagufta Iqbal Mansuri, Imran Mansuri and Taslim Imran Mansuri had instructed the man who went to play bhajans to stop playing them. “Today they again came in a mob and turned off the bhajans. They said that bhajan is haram in Islam and bhajan and Aarti should be stopped in ‘our area’. They said that we Muslims live here and Hindu bhajans should not be played here. The Jalaram Sai temple and Shiv temple are there since many years and these Muslims want to hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus,” the letter states.
Subsequently, an FIR was filed against Shaukat Mansuri, Imran Mansuri, Taslim Mansuri and Shafugta Mansuri on 11th June 2021. Police has mentioned that a case has been registered and investigation is currently underway.
However, after the above complaint was filed, Patel alleged that Mansuri and his relative again came to threaten them. Subsequently, they filed another application. As per the second complaint, a copy of which is with OpIndia, one Ubed Mansuri, Shagufta Mansuri, Zulekha Mansuri, Shaukat Mansuri’s wife and two more Muslim women had come to put pressure on Darpan Chauhan, Chetan Patel as well as Gaurang Rana who had filed the complaint. The complaint says that when they refused to back off, they were threatened with dire consequences.
“With reference to the case, since past 8-10 years, they have put women and children forward and tried to instil fear in us. Because of this we feel unsafe. Shaukat Mansuri has anti-Hindu mindset and wants to do land-jihad and wants to turn Hindu community in the area into minority. Despite the implementation of Disturbed Areas Act, they got their family members to buy homes from Hindu families. They are also threatening us with dire consequences if we continue with bhajans. He has also threatened that he will turn the area into Muslim-dominated area.
“If anything happens to any of us or our family members, the people mentioned above will be responsible,” the letter said.
Three months after the above incident, the residents of Soni Faliya have put up ‘for sale’ banners outside their homes.
Disturbed Areas Act
Disturbed Areas Act is implemented in parts of districts of a state where the Act is in place to ensure that communal harmony is maintained and there is no polarisation of any particular community. District Administration, to maintain communal harmony and peace, could declare certain areas as ‘Disturbed Areas’ which are susceptible to demography change. The transfer of immovable property in these areas would require an elaborate procedure. The seller, in the application, must mention that the seller is selling the property by their own free will.
Transfer of immovable property in such cases would require an elaborate procedure that includes city administration to going to the site and examining the property and taking approval from people affected. This includes those who live nearby that particular property as well. Only once the procedure is followed and Collector is satisfied will he approve the transfer of property. Through this Act, the government is trying to keep a check on the polarisation of communities in sensitive parts of the state.