Dhar on boil again over disputed prayer site

Bhojshala in Dhar town threatens to turn into a potential flashpoint this Basant Panchami as both Hindus and Muslims will converge to pray at the disputed structure on February 15. While Hindus call it a Saraswati temple, Muslims identify the structure as a mosque but their prayer days are different. The two communities face each other only when Basant Panchami falls on a Friday, a rare occurrence.

According to an arrangement fixed by the Archaeological Survey of India, Hindus are allowed to pray every Tuesday and on Basant Panchami, and Muslims on Friday. When Basant Panchami falls on Friday, the ASI allows Hindus to pray from sunrise to 12.30 pm and from 3.30 pm to sunset while reserving 1 pm to 3 pm for Muslims to offer namaz.

"We will follow the ASI arrangement," Indore Divisional Commissioner Prabhat Parashar said on Tuesday.

However, Bhoj Utsava Samiti chief Ashok Jain said, "We won't vacate the premises from sunrise to sunset. Muslims can offer namaz at any of the 22 mosques in Dhar."At a press meet in Allahabad Monday, seers threatened to leave Kumbh and come to Dhar if Hindus were prevented from praying the whole day.

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