Muslims’ fight for burial ground brings succour to Hindus & Christians

SHAFAQNA – ‘Hindu-Muslim bhai bhai’ — this pre-Independence era slogan rarely has any relevance in the contemporary day, especially in the country’s current scenario with communal tensions being reported from several areas.

Metropolis Mumbai too has its share of communal tension among Hindus, Muslims and Christians.

Yet, there has been instances where communities made efforts for sustainable peace. In one such bid, Muslims helped Hindus get land for constuction of a cemetery while pursuing their own.

BMC chief Ajoy Mehta, had earier made a proposal to construct cemeteries for all three communities near Bandra Reclamation.

Interestingly, this decision was revealed when the Muslim community’s Sunni sect dragged the civic body to the Bombay High Court. As of now, the civic chief’s decision (of June 23) has not been implemented both in letter and spirit.

The Sunni community of Bandra (West) had been waiting for a “Qabristan” (burial ground) since several decades as there was no such facility provided to them by the civic body. The community was compelled to travel all the way to Vile Parle, Andheri and other areas to bury their dead.

The community through their advocate Ashraf Ahmed Shaikh, filed a PIL and sought implementation of the Preparatory Studies Report. This report was prepared under the chairmanship of Mehta, which recommended allotment of 1.6 hectares of land in each ward for burial grounds, cemeteries and crematoriums.

Speaking on the issue, Shaikh said, “Since last many years, people here are suffering in terms of distance and shortage of burial grounds. I am happy that because of the current PIL, Hindus and Christian brothers will also get a place for performing their final rituals.”

The PIL was heard by Chief Justice Manjula Chellur, who has time and again pulled up the BMC that has been citing several reasons for not earmarking the land for Sunni Qabristan. The civic body has in every hearing come up with some or the other reason only to face the wrath of the Chief Justice.

However, even the continuous slamming from the Chief Justice seems to have not made any impact on the civic body as it still has not earmarked the land for the Sunni sect. The BMC has now been given eight weeks time to earmark the land for Sunni Qabristan.

In the earlier hearing, the civic body apprised Chief Justice Chellur about the civic chief Ajoy Mehta’s decision to allot 3000 sqm  land for the cemeteries to all three communities.

Shaikh added, “We are hoping that the demarcation and allotment will take place within the eight weeks – the time frame granted by the court. We are thankful to the HC for the necessary directions and timely intervention.”

BMC would be earmarking the lands after finalising the Development Plan (DP). The cemetery will however block the ongoing Metro work.

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