Skip to main content

In a landmark judgment delivered last night, the Karnataka High Court has cleared Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations to be held at the Idgah grounds in Hubli-Dharwad in Karnataka. The High Court has dismissed the motion filed by Anjuman-E-Islam seeking an order suspending the Dharwad Municipal Commissioner’s permission granted for the Hindu festival.

The Idgah Maidan in Hubli has been the subject of dispute for decades, with Muslims claiming they have sole ownership of the land, while the administration maintains that it is government property leased only to Muslims. The long-running ownership dispute ended in 2010 when the Supreme Court ruled that the Idgah Maidan was wholly owned by the Hubli-Dharwad Municipal Corporation (HDMC).

Prior to this historic ruling, the ground had been disputed for decades, and in 1994 six people were killed when the state’s congressional government at the time prevented Nationalists from raising the flag on the ground. .

Hindu organizations had been trying to hoist the tricolor to the ground since 1992, but Karnataka’s Congress government was blocking it, saying it would lead to communal tensions. But in 1994, several Hindu organizations planned to raise the national flag on Independence Day that year. To prevent the planned hoisting of the flag, the state congressional government had imposed a curfew in the city.

But despite the curfew order, Uma Bharti and several other leaders managed to enter the city, and a large number of Hindus had gathered near the maidan of Idgah to raise the flag led by the leader of the BJP. However, Uma Bharti was arrested about 1 km above the ground, which sparked community tensions. But suddenly the police opened fire on the Hindus without provocation, killing six unarmed people.

Veerappa Moily’s government had sided with Muslims in not allowing Hindu organizations to hoist the national flag at the Idgah Maidan in Hubli on August 15, 1994. It was also reported that police resorted to shooting to disperse the crowd without using non-lethal means. methods such as lathi-charge, tear gas shells, etc.

Uma Bharti and several others have been charged by those involved in the case which has been filed in the case. While the case lay dormant for a decade, Uma Bharti was arrested in 2004 after a court issued new arrest warrants, forcing her to resign as Madhya Pradesh’s chief minister.

The Idgah Maidan Dispute

The dispute over the Idgah maidan was the result of an agreement signed a century ago that allowed AeI to use the land for prayers. In 1921, the Anjuman-E-Islam had signed an agreement with the municipality which allowed it to use the land twice a year for Ramzan and Bakri Id, and the agreement was valid for 999 years. However, the nature of the agreement was in dispute, as the agreement did not specify the details. The agreement stated that AeI would have to pay rent of Re1 per year for the land, but did not mention whether it was a lease or a license.

The dispute over Idgah maidan started in 1971 when Anjuman-E-Islam started to build a trading complex at Idgah Maidan after getting permission from HDMC. The Hindus objected, saying the AeI is only allowed to use the land, it does not own the land, and it is not allowed to build a permanent structure on it. In 1992, BS Shettar and several others filed a petition against the construction, and a lower court ruled in their favor in 1994, dismissing the Anjuman’s claim to ownership. The court also ordered the demolition of the commercial complex built by Anjuman.

Anjuman then appealed the verdict to the Civil Court, High Court and Supreme Court, and lost the case at every stage. In the final verdict in 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that the land belongs to the municipality and that the AeI is only allowed to use it for prayers. The supreme court had also ordered the demolition of the commercial complex built by Anjuman, upholding the verdicts of the lower courts.

National flag on the ground

However, the hoisting of the national flag on the ground had begun long before the SC verdict. After the 1994 riots, Anjuman-e-Islam itself began hoisting the tricolor to the ground the following year, due to political pressure and the negative publicity it had received for refusing to authorize the hoisting of the national flag.

After the Supreme Court verdict in January 2010 that the land belongs to HDMC, the municipal corporation started hoisting the tricolor on the ground from Republic Day that year.