Ahmedabad: Efforts Underway to Protect Historic Chartora Cemetery

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The Sunni Muslim Waqf Committee takes decisive action to preserve the sanctity of the graveyard amid encroachments and neglect

Mohammad Alamullah | Clarion India

NEW DELHI — The historic Chartora Cemetery, the largest in Ahmedabad, spanning approximately 100,000 square yards, is currently under threat from encroachment and misuse.

Responding to the threat, the Sunni Muslim Waqf Committee has initiated significant measures to protect and preserve the cemetery’s sanctity. Rizwan Qadri, a trustee, emphasised the original intent behind the cemetery’s dedication and the current measures being undertaken to restore its dignity.

“This cemetery was dedicated over a century ago with the intention that Muslims in Ahmedabad should not suffer from a lack of burial space in the future,” Qadri stated. “The individuals who dedicated this land had a foresight that it would serve the community for generations. However, today, the situation is dire with more than 600 families residing on the cemetery grounds.”

The encroachment began with about 103 to 114 individuals being temporarily accommodated in an area known as All Reddy Watwa. This number has exponentially grown, with the encroached area now covering at least 500,000 square feet. Qadri highlighted the misuse and disrespect shown towards the cemetery, describing how its sanctity has been compromised over the years.

“People are using the cemetery’s facilities, including the toilets, in a manner that is utterly disrespectful,” Qadri lamented.

To combat this desecration, the Sunni Muslim Waqf Committee has initiated several measures. Qadri detailed the steps taken, including restricting entry of unauthorised people and starting a clean-up campaign to restore the cemetery’s condition.

“When we started the clean-up campaign, we found all sorts of garbage, and it was heart-warming to see the community coming together to clean up the cemetery,” Qadri said. “The aim is clear: to restore respect and order without disturbing law and order.”

Iqbal Hussain, Secretary of the Waqf Committee, echoed Qadri’s sentiments and outlined the committee’s legal efforts to protect the cemetery. “We are taking strict steps to prevent further desecration and are also engaged in a legal battle to save the Chartora Cemetery,” Hussain explained. “Our goal is to ensure that this cemetery remains a valuable and respected part of our community for our generations.”

Locals and community leaders have voiced their support for the committee’s efforts. “It’s about time that we take serious steps to preserve such an important part of our heritage,” said Ahmed Patel, a local community leader. “The cemetery holds significant historical and cultural value, and its current state is a reflection of our collective neglect. We must all work together to restore and protect it.”

The committee is also focusing on educating the local population about the importance of respecting cemetery grounds. Awareness campaigns are being planned to highlight the cultural and religious significance of the Chartora Cemetery and the proper ways to maintain its sanctity.

One of the immediate challenges faced by the committee is relocating the families currently residing within the cemetery grounds. The committee is working on finding alternative housing solutions for these families to ensure that the cemetery can be preserved without causing undue hardship to those displaced.

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