Gorakhpur, India – Javaid Akhter, 71, has spent the rest of his life in his parents’ 100-year-old house built by his grandparents. It is located a few meters from the famous Hindu temple in northern India in Uttar Pradesh.
Akhter, a retired engineer and railway engineer in India, says Gorakhpur district officials, including police, recently visited his home and inspected the surrounding area.
The next day, he was asked to sign a “letter of confirmation”, stating that the inhabitants of the southeast corner of the Gorakhnath temple had given “permission” or given their property to the government “as” temple security “.
The letter said, “We have nothing and according to our permission, we have our signature followed,” read the names, and the names of the occupants.
About a dozen families, all from a minority Muslim living near the temple, were asked to sign an official letter, while the signatories said that they were asked to leave their homes.
Akhter told Al Jazeera that he noticed that a few families had already signed the letter.
“The authorities told us that if we did not sign the letter, they would have other ways of getting our signature. We were forced to, ”he said.
Ironically, Uttar Pradesh Prime Minister Yogi Adityanath is a “mahant” or high priest of the Gorakhnath temple.
Prior to becoming Prime Minister in 2017, Adityanath, a courageous saffron leader of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was a member of parliament in Gorakhpur for almost two decades.
The temple covers 52 hectares (21 hectares), and is descended from the 11th-century monk, Guru Gorakhnath, who was a member of the Shaivite culture within Hinduism.
With 220 million people, about 20% of Muslims, Uttar Pradesh has long been the center of religious crisis that escalated when BJP came to power in 2014.
Last month, local authorities in Barabanki district knocked down What the local Muslims call a 100-year-old mosque, which caused problems in the area.
‘Have I signed my death certificate?’
Retired experts Akhter said government officials in Gorakhpur told the signatories that they had received compensation for their location and location.
“But we do not want compensation. We just want to stay here because this is where our parents, grandparents have been for over 100 years, ”he said.
Akther says that although Gorakhpur is a stronghold of the BJP, Hindus and Muslims “have lived in peace and harmony in its territory”.
On May 27, Musheer Ahmed was not at home when local financial officials and police departments visited him.
Officials measured Ahmed’s house. The next day, the 70-year-old was asked to sign a “letter of acceptance”.
Ahmed, who has been suffering from a serious illness and depression for 10 years, says he is worried about the home of his 125-year-old parents.
“Since then my problems have been increasing. Have I signed my death certificate? ”He says. “I still do not understand why my 125-year-old house is being taken away. I’m scared. ”
Ahmed says he wants to discuss the matter with Prime Minister Adityanath.
The Intezar Hussain House is located southwest of the Gorakhnath temple. He said he was “told” by local authorities that his house would be “confiscated” for security reasons and that he would be compensated.
Hussain reportedly asked the officials to provide their certificates in writing before making a decision.
“We found that 11 northeast [of the temple] taken by the government. I went to meet everyone there and tried to find out why the government wanted to take away our land but there was no clear answer, ”he told Al Jazeera.
“Those who signed this form are now saddened. Now they say that they cannot leave their place. ”
Akhter lives in his two-story house with nine other brothers, including his two sons and grandchildren.
“We have lived here for generations. We don’t want to leave our parents, ”he told Al Jazeera.
Akhter said there are already police near the temple and a police station inside the temple grounds.
“There is no need to add police officers to the area,” he said.
Circuit overseers are refusing to coerce Muslim families into taking their documents.
“It’s 100% cooked and fake,” Gorakhpur District Judge Vijayendra Pandian told Al Jazeera, adding that it is up to the people whether they want to give up their space or not.
“We can’t even take anyone’s place without permission,” he said, adding that the document he shared on TV was “cooked”.
“The information is 100% false. We will make a FIRE report (police reports) in accordance with the IT Act and the action has already begun, “he added.
Pandian said “the document is with me”.
“The right information is with the government. There is no seizure. There is no strong conviction, ”he said.
When asked by Al Jazeera what “proper knowledge” is, he said: “I tell you why?”
Pandain criticized reporters for “seeing everything through the Hindu-Muslim prism” and said his supervisors were “just watching” the coronavirus epidemic.
But Shahnawaz Alam, chairman of Uttar Pradesh’s small opposition department, said reporters said the ordinance “forced the signing of” people living around the temple.
“Instead of cracking down on the authorities, the federal government is instead threatening to prosecute the journalists under the National Security Act (NSA),” Alam said.
A reports A Maktoob correspondent on Friday said Gorakhpur officials had threatened a journalist in New Delhi, who reported that Muslim families had been evacuated near the Gorakhnath temple under construction under “NSA production”.