State govt denies existence of mosque at Bababudangiri

The Karnataka government has denied before the Supreme Court the existence of any mosque near the disputed cave shrine of Guru Dattatreya Bababudangiri Swamy dargah in Chikmagalur.

In a written response, the State government rejected the allegations made by ‘Sajjada Nasheen’ (descendent of ‘sufi pir’) who had claimed that the government was carrying out demolition of the masjid near the shrine and had changed the name of the shrine from ‘Guru Dattatray Baba Budan Swami Dargah alias Hazrath Dada Hayat Mir Kalandar’ to ‘Dharmika Datti Elakhe Shree Guru Dattatreya Bababudan Swamy dargah’ in the sign board in April last year.

“In fact, there is no masjid at all on the premises. What is found is a prayer hall, in a dilapidated condition. Even as per the records maintained in the department, there is no structure of masjid as contended by the applicant but it is only a common prayer hall,” the statement said.

The government said that following a letter by the executive engineer of the Public Works Department in November 2003, the structure was demolished as recommended since, built with mud and stones, it was in a dilapidated condition and there was no possibility of its renovation.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had also given an opinion either to get the prayer hall repaired or demolish it as the water flowing from the structure had led to seepage in the cave shrine, it added.

The government termed the allegation of ‘Sajjada Nasheen’ that he was not allowed to participate in annual ‘urs’ as false and baseless. After the orders from the apex court on December 1, 2008 and March 1, 2011, the district administration had sent an endorsement to him but he chose not to participate in celebrating ‘urs’ between March 20 and 23, 2011.

“He has participated only one day during the year 2012 ‘urs,’ which shows that he is not interested in participating in the religious activities,” the response said.

The ‘dargah’ at Chikmagalur is visited and venerated by thousands of Hindus and Muslims alike but there have been demands for its “liberation” on the ground that it was a temple of Lord Dattatreya.

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