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Nine Muslim families living near Gorakhnath temple asked to vacate homes in Gorakhpur

Masihuzzama Ansari | India Tomorrow

NEW DELHI—Fear has gripped the minuscule Muslim community after the Gorakhpur administration asked nine families to vacate homes citing security of Gorakhnath temple.  

Families allege that the administration is forcing them to sign the consent letter. 

The consent letter does not contain any name of the department or authority. In the letter, it is written that they are vacating houses of their own free will for the security purpose of the temple.

“We have not consented to vacate the house. We are very much worried,” said one of affected families.

Gorakhpur district collector Vijayendra Pandian said the families are vacating the houses of their own free will. “You reporters are just trying to create controversy. We can take action against you under the IT act. And you can be booked under NSA,” he said.

Intizar Ahmad, one of the affected family members, said they have not received any notice. “Suddenly sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) asked us to sign the consent letter. We have been asked to vacate the houses. We have not been given any written assurance on compensation,” he said.

Another family said they have been living in the area for the last 125 years. “Suddenly four lines about consent were written on plain paper and we were forced to sign on the dotted lines. We are being forced to vacate our houses,” he said.

The administration has said Muslims were asked to vacate because of security reasons. “The administration is saying that they are setting up security camp,” he said.  

Affected families said on May 27, some officials visited their homes and did some measurements, and left. Locals said the officials came again on May 28 and asked the families to vacate the homes. 

A day later they again came and asked them to sign the consent letters. “We have rejected it. But they forced the head of one family to sign the document. Later they admitted their mistake,” said a family member.

On Wednesday, SDM, tehsildar, and other officials visited the Muslims again and asked them to sign the letter. They did not talk about compensation. Later they asked the families to visit the Tehsil office for further discussions.

The families, however, decided that they will not attend any meeting nor sign any document or consent letter till the government issues a formal notice. 

District Collector, however, blamed the media for spreading rumours. “When people are ready to vacate, why are you spreading rumours. They are vacating out of their own free will. If you will continue to spread rumours or write reports, we will book you under NSA,” he said.

However, the affected families said they have not consented to vacate their houses and the administration is lying through their teeth. “We are getting threats from Tehsildar and other officials,” said another family.

Senior Samajwadi Party leader Zia-ul-Islam said the viral document clearly shows that people were asked to sign on plain paper. “There is no mention of any officer or department. It has no legal sanctity,” he said.

UP Congress Minority wing chairman Shahnawaz Alam alleged, “This is the first incident in which the chief minister is occupying the land of Muslims in the name of a temple.”  

“He should know that Nawab Asifuddin was a Muslim who donated land to the temple. So far, BJP leaders and ministers were occupying lands and now the CM too has embarked on this journey. This is not illegal but against the tenets of religion,” he said.

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