Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year gift for Fazilka Muslims: A mosque

Amrita Chaudhry
Posted: Mon Jan 03 2011, 00:47 hrs, Indian Express
Closed after bloodshed during Partition, first prayers were offered at the mosque on New Year's Eve

For the around 5,000 Muslim population of Fazilka, there could be a no better gift on the New Year. A mosque situated on the Sullemani Road in Fazilka was restored and reopened after a gap of almost 64 years. This mosque had been closed post-Independence, which was followed by a widespread bloodshed during Partition, and no prayers had been offered here ever since.

Usman Reham Ludhianvee, Officer, Religious Affairs, Wakf Board, said: "Nearly 2,000 mosques are lying closed in Punjab. Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Ludhiana, Maulana Habib Ur-Rehman Sani Ludhianvi had recently issued instructions according to which we identified all such mosques and are now in the process of reopening them. We have opened around 200 till now."

But the task is not all that simple. Usman explains: "This mosque in Fazilka is huge, and according to the revenue records, it was owned by more than one person. The largest portion was held by a Hindu, Ved Parkash, and a Sikh, Jaswinder Singh. Officials of the Wakf Board were asked to coordinate with district administration officials and find an amicable solution to the issue. Thankfully, the current owners of the place had not raised any structure there and they agreed to let us open the mosque."

Over 1,000 Muslims of Fazilka and nearby areas gathered at this mosque to offer prayers on Friday. A devotee said: "We did not have any place to worship. The first azaaan after Independence was heard from the top of this mosque today, which is a great feeling."

The gathering at the mosque thanked the residents of Fazilka for "helping restore this mosque". The building has broken down at places and we will soon initiate the process to repair them. The Wakf Board has given a grant of Rs 2 lakh for the purpose," said one of them.

Earlier in the year, mosques at Sarwar village near Ludhiana , Dhuri, Ajitwal and other areas were restored. While the mosque in Sarwar was rebuilt by an NRI, Sajjan Singh Ghuman, those in other places were reconstructed by the efforts of the locals.

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