Image: Indian Express

TDN World Desk: Freedom of religion in India is a fundamental right guaranteed by Indian constitution. Yet, in Sanpada, Mumbai the real-life situation is something very different. A group of local residents carried out a protest rally against a mosque, proposed to be erected in that area. 

The protest march, carried out on Tuesday, was headed by a Hindutva organization named the Akhil Sanpada Rahiwasi Mahasangha. The protest started around 8 am followed by rituals at the Ganesh temple and lasted for around two and half hours blocking the busy Sion-Panvel Highway at the Sanpada flyover. 

The police detained more than 100 agitators. The crowd dispersed around 12.30 pm. The protest was launched against a proposed mosque in sector 8 of Sanpada. Asked about the matter of their protest, Ghanshyam Pate of the Mahasangha told the Indian Express, ” Sanpada is a Hindu majority area with only 51 Muslim families. Bringing a mosque here is akin to creating religious clash”. 

“We have been protesting against the mosque since 2001. In 2002, the then senior inspector had sent a favourable report for the mosque, despite our protests. We have spoken to the municipal authorities to find a different place with sizeable Muslim population for the mosque, but now they seem to be adamant to make it in Sanpada,” Pate was quoted by Express. 

President of Tanzim-ul-Muslimeen Society, Abdul Dadan, 59, claims that every Friday, around 1,400 namazis come together to offer prayer in three shifts at a rental one BHK flat in Sanpada. And during Eid festivals, the number rises up to 3,500. 

Abdul Dadan told TOI, “There are two churches, one gurudwara and five temples in Sanpada node and our trust wants to build the first mosque for 750 families in 24 sectors”. 

Satish Ugile, assistant town planning officer said that they received the proposal for the mosque in Sanpada. According to him,” CIDCO (the City and Industrial Development Cooperation of Maharashtra Limited) has sent the proposal and there is even a court directive in the matter that we need to make the decision within a stipulated time. It is under consideration as of now”. 

As per sources, police arrested the protesters who led off the march from the front. They all were booked under the section of Indian Penal Code for wrongful restraint, creating hindrance in traffic way, and for unlawful assembly. Though, hours later they were released on bail.