Attempt to construct mosque by grabbing land of Kantajew Temple in Bangladesh

Kantajew Temple

Allegations have surfaced concerning the construction of a mosque on the premises of the traditional Kantajew Temple in Kaharol, Dinajpur. Complaints suggest that this construction is being facilitated through the use of falsified documents from the office of the District Commissioner. In Kantnagar village, discontent among followers of the Sanatan faith is growing regarding the erection of a mosque on the Raj Devottar Estate. Local residents allege that Zakaria Jaka, the incumbent Member of Parliament for Dinajpur-1 Constituency, is actively supporting this endeavor. Despite being aware of the situation, Jaka laid the foundation stone for the mosque’s construction on March 1, 2024.

Ranjit Kumar Singh, the representative of Dinajpur Raj Devottar Estate, has lodged a formal complaint with the District Commissioner requesting the cessation of construction activities. Both the district and upazila administrations have confirmed that construction work has been halted following the complaint. A decision regarding the matter will be reached after thorough verification of the documents presented by both parties. Nevertheless, local residents continue to voice concerns, stating that construction of the mosque is still underway.

Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Parishad has conveyed profound concern regarding the unauthorized construction of a mosque on the revered grounds of the historic Kantajew Temple in Dinajpur. The temple holds significant religious importance for Hindus, serving as a sacred pilgrimage site steeped in ancient heritage. Leaders of the Parishad have appealed for the intervention of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to safeguard the sanctity and preservation of the temple.

Dinajpur District Superintendent of Police, Shah Iftekhar Ahmed, informed the media that an effort was underway to construct a mosque by establishing permanent infrastructure on the disputed land adjacent to the temple. Following thorough verification of documents, both the district administration and police have halted the ongoing work.

The Superintendent of Police emphasized that in light of this incident, both the police and local administration are on high alert to prevent the spread of rumors and to maintain law and order. As of now, the overall situation remains calm and normal.

On Friday, March 22, Ranjit Kumar Singh informed reporters that a mosque is being constructed on land belonging to the Kantajew Temple in Kantnagar Mauza. However, there is no land record under their ownership. He stated, “I observed from news reports that no construction activity was taking place on Friday. However, if work proceeds clandestinely under the cover of darkness, who will impede it?”

Members of the Sanatan community, aggrieved by the construction of a mosque on the temple grounds, assert that the Kantajew Temple holds sacred significance as a pilgrimage site for Sanatan adherents, boasting a rich heritage. The expansive land surrounding the temple has remained unused for an extended period. Seizing this opportunity, a group erected a mosque using tin sheds initially, and now efforts are underway to construct a permanent structure. They further allege that certain individuals are endeavoring to disrupt communal harmony in the area through these actions.

Meanwhile, local Muslims claim that the landowner of the disputed property is the Jame Masjid of Kantnagar village.

On March 13, Ranjit Kumar Singh, the representative of Raj Devottar Estate, lodged a written complaint with the Deputy Commissioner. He stated, “The CS No. 2 Khatian in Kantnagar Mauza of Kaharol Upazila is registered in the name of Hon’ble Maharaja Jagdish Nath Roy, representing Sri Sri Kantajew Vigraha, encompassing 94.07 acres of land under that Khatian. Additionally, SA No. 05 Khatian holds 62.46 acres of land across 19 dags, under the ownership of Dinajpur Raj Debottar Estate, with the Deputy Commissioner acting as the leaseholder. Land rent is up to date as of Bengal 1430. On March 10, I became aware of the construction of a concrete mosque on Plot No. 16 of Kantanagar Mauza, situated on the property of Raj Devottar Estate. Upon visiting the construction site on March 11, I observed the mosque being erected on Plot No. 16 of Khatian, SA No. 5, Kantanagar Mauza, belonging to Raj Devottar Estate”.

In the written complaint, it is further stated, “Mozammel Haque, the secretary of the mosque committee claimed that the land for the mosque was granted to them by the DC Dinajpur in 1976. When requested to provide documentation, he produced a photocopy of a handwritten three-page affidavit. Upon scrutiny, it was revealed that the purported document neither constituted an official allotment nor was it a registered land deed. Furthermore, the document failed to indicate any transfer of ownership. It was concluded that the affidavit appeared to be counterfeit and fabricated”.

Furthermore, referencing Section 51DLR of 1999, it is emphasized that inheritance is non-transferrable and perpetual. The unauthorized construction of a mosque on Raj Debottar Estate’s property has sparked outrage among the Sanatan religious community in the vicinity. Consequently, I urge you to take immediate action to halt the ongoing construction”.

Upon receipt of this request, the District Commissioner instructed the Kaharol Upazila Nirbahi Officer to provide an investigative report promptly and ordered the suspension of construction activities.

Kaharol Upazila Executive Officer, Aminul Islam, stated that the investigation is currently underway. He has instructed the mosque committee to halt construction until the investigation concludes, emphasizing that the property belongs to Debottar and the investigation is ongoing. He confirmed that the construction work is presently suspended.

Abdus Salam, the president of the mosque committee, explained, “There was a rudimentary mosque present previously. Currently, we are constructing a three-storied mosque with a foundation, funded by contributions totaling Tk. 25 lakhs. Previously, there was a legal dispute over this site, which was eventually resolved through a compromise ordered by the court. As per the terms of the compromise, documented in a deed of compromise dated 13.06.1976, the mosque is entitled to 8 percent of the land”.

Upon visiting the site, it was observed that various construction materials were present, indicating ongoing construction activities. Several workers were witnessed transporting sand to the site. A nameplate was found, marking the foundation stone laying ceremony of the mosque. Inscribed on the white stone plaque were the words, ‘The foundation stone of the third-floor building of Kantnagar Village Jame Masjid was laid by Md. Zakaria Zaka, Member of Parliament, Dinajpur-6, Dinajpur-1, on March 1, 1024’. MP Zakaria also shared a photo of the foundation stone ceremony on his Facebook page.

Member of Parliament, Zakaria Zaka, addressed the media regarding the matter, stating, “I was informed that a mosque has been present in the area for 75 years, and efforts were being made to construct a new mosque building. However, upon further inquiry, I discovered that the land in question is designated as Hindu temple property. Consequently, I am uncertain about the validity of the property claimed by the mosque committee. They assert that the documents have been obtained from the district administration. However, I cannot confirm the accuracy of these documents”.

In response to a query, he stated, “I was unaware of the situation at the time of laying the foundation stone of the mosque”. Subsequently, conflicting claims emerged regarding the land in question. The district administration is actively managing the issue, and I will abide by the government’s decision on this matter. I have no objection to supporting the rightful owners of the land”.

Ratan Singh, the General Secretary of Dinajpur District Hindu Buddhist Oikya Parishad, informed reporters that all activities were halted following a complaint filed by the agent of Raj Devottar Estate to the Deputy Commissioner. He stressed the need for a thorough investigation into the matter.

Former Member of Parliament for the area, Manoranjan Shil Gopal, asserted that the current local MP knowingly laid the foundation stone for the mosque’s construction on March 1st. It appears that he is actively supporting the mosque’s construction efforts. Gopal mentioned that a written complaint had been submitted by the temple committee to the district administration to halt the mosque’s construction, but no effective action has been taken. He expressed concern over ongoing construction activities.

Gopal further communicated with the district administration, expressing dissatisfaction with their approach to resolving the matter. He criticized the administration for wasting time discussing solutions while construction of the mosque continues unabated. Gopal emphasized the urgency of addressing the issue promptly, as once the mosque is completed, reversing the construction would be challenging. He stressed the importance of taking preemptive measures to effectively address the situation.


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