The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has a proposal for the residents of Shahnawan, a village barely 10 km from Ayodhya.It has offered to build the ‘Babri Masjid’ there, but in turn wants the disputed site in Ayodhya to be handed over to Hindus to build the Ram temple.
But Shahnawan with its population of 2,500 Muslims and a 1,000 Hindus has collectively rejected the offer.This village is home to a Sufi shrine dedicated to Mir Baqi, who allegedly demolished a temple in Ayodhya to build the Babri Masjid. But the shrine is revered by both Hindus and Muslims.
Ram Vilas Vedanti, a former BJP MP and member of the Ram Janmabhoomi Trust, confirmed on Tuesday that the VHP had offered to built a mosque at Shahnawan.”This village is an example of Hindu-Muslim unity. There is a mazar of Mir Baqi, which is revered by both Muslims and Hindus.
Some of the Muslim villagers served in the mosque at Ayodhya and have respect for temples.
“So we have offered to help them build a mosque there if the Sunni Central Waqf Board withdraws its claim over the disputed site,” Vedanti, who is a priest of Hindu Dham temple in Ayodhya, said.
But the residents suspect it is a conspiracy to disturb the social harmony of the village.
“We already have two mosques and three mazars. We don’t need any more. Besides, these people cannot be trusted. Our village will become a hub of VHP activities if we agree to their offer,” Mohammad Raees, a villager, said.
“Our ancestors, Hindus as well as Muslims, taught us to respect each other’s culture and religion.
It is not our fault that our ancestors were Imams and caretakers of the Babri Masjid,” he added.
Another resident, Rahmat Ali, said: “We don’t want to invite disputed issues into our village and lose our peace.”
Even the Hindus of Shahnawan are wary of the saffron parivar’s designs. A youth of the village, Rakesh Maurya, said: “We don’t need suggestions from the VHP or the BJP.
Such offers are meant for creating trouble for us. And who in the village will give his land for a mosque or a temple anyway?” For the entire village the mazar of Mir Baqi is an auspicious place where they all pray before starting on anything new.
“Mir Baqi was not a name but an honour bestowed upon Huzabbbar Ali, the governor of Awadh. He was a Sufi and his five sons used to help not only Muslims but also Hindus. They had constructed many temples in the area,” said 76- year- old Nabi Hasan.
Hasan, a Shia Muslim and one of the oldest in the village, has the history of his ancestors on his finger tips. ” We are descendants of Razab Ali, the eldest son of Mir Baqi.
There was nothing there when he had constructed Babri Masjid. He named it Babri because it was built on a huge rock. Babri means rock in Persian.
Mir Baqi was a great admirer of Hinduism. But now some people want Hindus and Muslims to kill each other,” he said. Maulana Abdul Gaffar of the same village was the Imam of the Babri Masjid till December 22, 1949.
“He was my maternal uncle. He used to tell us that the Babri Masjid was not related to Babar.
He had great respect for the Gorakhnath temple in Gorakhpur and used to give financial help to many temples in Ayodhya. We are following the same tradition,” said Sayed Mohammad Ahmed, who retired last year as a mechanic.
Shamsher Singh (67), a retired postmaster said, ” We have a strong oral history. Muslims of this village used to maintain not only the Babri Masjid but also the temples, including Hanuman Garhi in Ayodhya.
The descendants of Razab Ali used to clean the Masjid and also donate funds for temples there. Maulana Abdul Gaffar, the last Imam of the Babri Masjid would offer support to the Mahants of temples there.
My father Kanhaiya Baksh Singh was village chief for 45 years because Muslims voted for him.
He would clean the mazars every day. We clean it even today whenever we get time. Our sons and daughters offer prayer there.” “When the Masjid was razed by some zealots and curfew was clamped, I stayed in Muslim hamlets and some Muslims used to stay in Hindu hamlets. This may appear unusual to an outsider.
But for us it is routine,” he added.