Basant Panchami is a Hindu festival that happens to fall on a Friday this year. Madhya Pradesh’s Dhar town is edgy as a large rally under the banner of Dharmajagran Manch led by local BJP MP demanded yesterday that Hindus be allowed exclusive access to the disputed shrine of Bhojshala, where they worship goddess Saraswati. Since the festival falls on Friday, Muslims are entitled to offer Namaz at the shrine on this day.
Congress is saying that the event is being used by the BJP and RSS to communalize the town and there is no temple whatsoever at the disputed shrine.
The Bhojshala shrine has been controversial for ages with the Kamal Masjid being right at the gate of the Bhojshala. The Archaeological Survey of India allows Hindus to offer prayer at the shrine on Tuesdays and on Basant Panchami and allows Muslims to offer Namaz on Friday at the shrine. With Basant Panchami falling on a Friday this time, both communities are demanding access to the shrine today.
While the Hindu community requests exclusive access to the shrine all the day, the Muslim community would like to offer Namaz between 1pm and 3pm. There is heavy security not only at the Bhojshala but also in various parts of the town with 7000 police personnel assigned to this event.
Having been told that the area has to be cleared out for Namaz for a certain period during the day, the puja has been temporarily shifted to a temple outside the disputed venue.
A similar clash had been seen in 2006 and 2013 and the police had to forcefully clear out people from the shrine. Although it does not seem likely that such an incident will take place today we will have to wait and watch if the Shobha Yatra that has been planned goes on smoothly.