Muslim industrialist builds Mandir, Muslim politician inaugurates it

By Pervez Bari,,

Bhopal: In the backdrop of prevailing era of charged communal tension, courtesy saffron brigade’s Hindutva cacophony, a new chapter in communal harmony in India was added when a Muslim industrialist funded a Hindu Mandir (temple) project to completion spending 10-15 million rupees in the process.

Mumbai-based Mr. Ashiqali Mohibali Nathani, the Muslim industrialist by his feat of undertaking the revamping and constructing the Ganeshdham Mandir all anew at Ranthambore near Sawai Madhopur in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, which was in shambles, has put to shame and given a slap in the face of the Hindutva forces who have divided Muslims and Hindus on communal lines, following the rancor of Babri Masjid-Ramjanambhoomi episode. The episode has been blown out of proportion by the vested interests not for any religious purpose but for political gains to catapult to power as the chain of events of the last two decades are testimony to this wherein human relationships between the two communities of the country were bulldozed and tarred to achieve the ulterior motives in the name of pious deed.

Chief Guest Mr. Aziz Qureshi cutting the traditional red-ribbon to inaugurate the Ganeshdham Mandir as Baba Prabhudasji Maharaj, the chief priest sporting white flowing beard, looks on with others

The Ganeshdham Mandir, spread over 8000 sq. ft., was dedicated to the public on January 27 after its formal inauguration by a Muslim politician Mr. Aziz Qureshi from Bhopal, the capital of central India state of Madhya Pradesh. Veteran Congress leader Mr. Qureshi, a former member of Lok Sabha and ex-minister of Madhya Pradesh, cut the traditional red-ribbon and unveiled the plaque to throw the doors open of the Mandir to the elite and common man alike. Justice Fakhruddin, a retired Madhya Pradesh High Court judge, presided over the inaugural function.

Those present on the occasion amongst others included Mr. Zaheer Qureshi, the Managing Director of S. S. Crop Care Limited, Bhopal; Adv. Deepchand Yadav, a senior Congress leader and former Mayor of Bhopal; Mr. Haider Yaar Khan, another senior Congress leader from Bhopal; Ms Clemmie Parker Engle, a Sr. Assistant Attorney General from Colorado (USA) along with Maria, Christie, Mark, Philip, Elizabeth, Michael, Jennifer, Suzanne (also from USA) and a host of other foreign tourists from America and United Kingdom together with the local populace.

The construction and formal dedication of the Mandir at the hands of Muslims in the presence of international tourists and Indians from various religious communities left one and all bewildered at the new happy tidings. It may be stated here that all is not lost yet and in an environment of communal frenzy prevailing all over the country such happy tides of communal harmony and coziness do come giving solace to the common man that humanity is not dead but still exists.
Another such example is the story coming about a Qatar-based NRI Hindu building a mosque in the southern Indian state of Kerala which is in the finishing stages.

As such the general perception that India has become a hotbed of religious rancor and communal strife lay in tatters before the very eyes of the international community who wondered in disbelief at the new aura of live and let live in complete communal harmony.

Mr. Aziz Qureshi, who was chief guest at the inaugural function, lamented the prevailing vitiated atmosphere which has ripped the society apart. Lauding the efforts of Mumbai-based industrialist Mr. Ashiqali of funding the construction of Ganeshdham Mandir and Baba Prabhudasji Maharaj, the chief priest, giving green signal to the project, said it would be written in golden words in the annals of Indian history. The duo have dealt a death blow to the Hindutva zealots who have fragmented Hindu-Muslim unity by their destructive policies.

Chief Guest Mr. Aziz Qureshi, a former member of Lok Sabha and ex-minister of Madhya Pradesh, unveiling the plaque of the newly constructed Ganeshdham Mandir

Meanwhile, the chief “Mahant” (priest) of the temple, revered Baba Prabhudasji Maharaj, who is in his late nineties, is now a proud man that in his life time the Mandir, which was in ruins where he did penance for nearly three decades, is not only totally refurbished but the “ashram” (residential quarters) where he and his disciples take refuge for rest has also been renovated. A guest house has also been built for devotees coming from outside.

Baba Prabhudasji Maharaj said though thousands of devotees have visited the Ganeshdham Mandir regularly over the decades but none came forward to lend a helping hand to improve the conditions of the deteriorating dilapidated Mandir building. However, a Mumbai-based Muslim industrialist Ashiqali Nathani once visited the place in March last year, on the advice of one of directors of his company, and offered to recast and overhaul the whole structure with housing facilities for the priests and guest devotees.

“The Muslim industrialist Ashiqali Nathani has kept his word depicting his Islamic character”, a beaming Baba Prabhudasji Maharaj remarked. He also intends to build a school and a dispensary in the Mandir complex. “I salute to him for his gestures which would go a long way in creating a congenial atmosphere for a healthy society”, the Mahant said.

Meanwhile, the 61-year-old Karachi-born Mr. Ashiqali Mohibali Nathani, founder of Tiana group of companies which has stakes in power, shipping, infrastructure, leasing and finance, proclaimed: “Seeing the ever growing gap in the relationships between the Hindus and Muslims, who have co-existed peacefully for centuries in India, in the present era my earnest desire is to stem the rot and bridge the gulf between the two communities”. “And the Ganeshdham Mandir project which I undertook was the best opportunity to send the message throughout India to the radicals about the pleasures of peaceful co-existence for the betterment of humanity at large and our beloved country India”, Mr. Ashiqali Nathani philosophically told this Correspondent.

Mr. Zaheer Qureshi said though Muslims are forbidden to indulge in idol worship but thinks that there is nothing wrong in funding a Mandir project. “It is a good gesture to promote communal harmony”, he quipped. ([email protected])