Friday 1 July 2022
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Biryani restaurant running in place of Ram Janki Temple in Kanpur

The strange story of ownership of a temple in Uttar Pradesh by a Pakistani Muslim who sells it to a bicycle repairer who, in turn, passes it on to a biryani restaurateur

A certain Baba Biryani Restaurant is running on a plot in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, where government records show the revered Ram Janki Temple should stand — according to a report in Dainik Jagran on “enemy properties”. Standing on plot 99/14A, the building that is supposed to be a temple has been functioning as a sacrilegious non-vegetarian eatery since the 1980s, sources said.

Worse, locals allege the biryani restaurant building is made of some of the construction material that were used to build the temple — apparently a deliberate Muslim act to insult Hindus as has recently been observed in Kashi Vishwanath Temple-turned-Gyanvapi Masjid where Muslims made the wuzukhanah at a place over the Shiva Linga so that the deity is soiled by water used to wash hands and feet by namazis.

The Enemy Act, 1968, is a law that enables and regulates the appropriation of property in India owned by Pakistani nationals. The law was made following the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. Ownership is passed to the custodian of Enemy Property for India, a government department. Across places where present-day Pakistanis’ forefathers lived in India, surveys are conducted to check the ownership. One such survey was going on in Kanpur when the discovery was made.

The Committee for Struggle for Enemy had complained about the gross misuse of what was supposed to be temple premises, which led to an investigation.

Divya Kumar Soti highlighted a part from the report on Twitter that said there used to be 18 shops owned by Hindus in the neighbourhood that have vanished in thin air.

The person who runs the biryani restaurant he had bought the from a certain Abid Rahman who went to Pakistan in 1962, where his family was already living. In 1982. He sold the property to a bicycle repairer Mukhtar Baba who began running his petty business on the temple premises. Mukhtar’s son Mahmoud Omar claims that he would furnish all relevant papers to the authorities if or when sought.

ETV India cited the officer in charge of enemy properties in the area ACM -7 Deepak Pal to say that he had received a complaint against the misuse of the said last year in September or October. A senior divisional magistrate-level probe revealed that somebody called Ishaq Baba was the caretaker of the temple. Later, his son Mukhtar Baba began a bicycle and puncture repair shop here.

The Chief Supervisor and advisor of the Enemy Guardian Office, Col Sanjay Saha, said that his office had served notices to the people involved in the property transfers and misuse. They have two weeks to respond.

Col Saha said that the show-cause notices contained five specific questions and that his office is awaiting their response. However, so far no reply has been received.

What is not clear is how a temple went into the hands of Muslims and how they could its ownership by selling and buying it.

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