Begged SDM to spare mosque until Eid, says village pradhan

KadalpurPrayers at the demolition site in Kadalpur on Tuesday. Express

The gram pradhan of Kadalpur, the village where the razing of the wall of an illegal mosque led to the suspension of subdivisional magistrate Durga Shakti Nagpal, said Tuesday that he had begged the IAS officer to postpone the demolition until after Eid, but she had been unbending.

Pradhan Shafiq Khan said villagers had been offering namaaz at the makeshift mosque every day for the past 10 years. As a fullblown political war rages over the officer's suspension, Kadalpur's primary grievance is that her action on July 27 came in the holy month of Ramzan.

Khan said villagers had collected Rs 4 lakh over the past year to build the foundation of the mosque so prayers would not have to be held in the open in bad weather. The wall had come up a month before it was demolished.

"The district administration arrived at 9 am with bulldozers, police back-up and ambulances. We were told that the structure was illegal. We were given no notice," Kadalpur resident Mohammed Ismail said.

"We begged the police first and then SDM Nagpal not to demolish the wall at least until the end of Ramzan. All the elders in the village, including the women, pleaded with her only asking for time, but to no avail," Shafiq Khan said. The residents, the pradhan said, had offered to stop all construction until they got the required permission.

Zaheeda Begum, 67, who said she was present when Nagpal arrived, said, "Whatever we said seemed to have no effect on the SDM. She came after the police and bulldozers had arrived, and we requested her to stop. She may have only been doing her job, but she showed us no compassion."

Khan said Congress, SP and BSP leaders had visited the mosque over the last few months. "SP leader Narendra Bhati was present when the first brick was laid, and leaders from many other parties have visited the site. They all supported the building of a masjid, and nobody told us we needed to get permission," he said.

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