Bengaluru, Sep 28 (IANS): The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday set aside the order of appointment of Muslim Moulvi Syed Ghouse Mohiddin to perform pujas in Dutta Peetha of Chikkamagaluru district. The appointment was made by the Congress government headed by Siddaramaiah.
Datta Peetha located in Bababudangiri Hills in Chikkamagaluru district has been described as the BJP's Ayodhya in Karnataka. The Commissioner of Religious Endowments Department had issued the order appointing Moulvi Syed Ghouse Mohiddin to perform puja in the temple on March 19, 2018.
The order was challenged by the Sri Guru Dattatreya Peetha Samvardhana Samithi and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). The bench headed by Justice Dinesh Kumar, after setting aside the earlier order, directed the state government to take an appropriate decision in the matter after considering it as a fresh case.
The ruling BJP leadership in the state has welcomed the verdict of the High Court.
C.T.Ravi, National General Secretary and BJP MLA who came into the limelight after active participation in the campaign to claim Datta Peetha as a Hindu religious centre, said that his heart is filled with joy following the court decision setting aside the appointment of the Moulvi to conduct worship in the Peetha. "All Hindus will be glad about the decision," he said.
"In the movement to claim Datta Peetha, the struggle of Hindus has not gone in vain. Datta maladhaaris and who followed Datta Peetha have a piece of good news now. I welcome the decision. The development has shown that truth will always prevail. The decision upholds the religious sentiments of Hindus," Ravi added.
The three-member committee appointed by the then cabinet subcommittee regarding the matter during Congress rule itself was against the law. The court today has quashed the report by the committee and upheld the petition of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Ravi maintained.
State BJP General Secretary Ravikumar described the court decision as the victory of Hindus and the Sangh Parivar.
Including the BJP, VHP, RSS many organisations have been involved in the movement over the years. In 2018-19, the Moulvi was appointed to perform puja by the Congress government. The VHP has also challenged this in the court, he said.
"The Congress government made a large number of arrests and lodged hundreds of cases against Hindu activists who protested against this. It had taken a ruthless decision against the sentiments of Hindus. But the court has given a verdict in favour of Hindus and we thank the judiciary," Ravikumar said.
Minister for Energy, Kannada and Culture Sunil Kumar said the verdict was a result of a long struggle. The court has asked to form a committee to appoint a priest for Datta Peetha. "I welcome the decision. Even the Supreme Court earlier had directed the appointment of a Hindu priest. But the Congress government under Siddaramaiah appointed a Muslim Moulvi," he said.
He also demanded that the Mujarai department should form a committee soon and appoint Hindu priests there. Hindu rituals and worship should begin soon, Sunil Kumar said.
Karnataka BJP President Nalin Kumar Kateel also expressed his happiness over the High Court order and described it as the victory of Hindus.
The shrine in Chikkamagaluru has been a pilgrimage spot for both Hindus and Muslims. The BJP, however, is demanding that the site be declared a Hindu temple.
The shrine is revered by both Hindus and Muslims, symbolising Sufi culture. It was known as Shree Guru Dattatreya Bababudan Swamy Dargah. What was a pilgrimage spot for the two faiths had become a disputed site between Hindus and Muslims.
Hindus consider the hill to be the final resting place of Dattatreya, the Muslims believe it is one of the earliest centres of Sufism in south India, with Sufi saint Dada Hayat Mirkalandar having lived there for years.