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Historic Win for Hindus in Long-Pending ‘Lakshagriha’ Land Dispute

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The Court of Civil Judge (Junior Division) in Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh, has finally concluded a 53-year-old legal dispute over a piece of land with mythological and historical significance. The land is believed by Hindus to be the site of the ‘lakshagriha’ (palace of lac) mentioned in the epic ‘Mahabharata’. The dispute involved conflicting claims between Muslim petitioners and Hindu devotees. The recent verdict marks the resolution of this longstanding issue.

The disputed site is situated on an ancient mound near the confluence of the Hindon and Krishni rivers in Barnawa village, Baghpat district. Beyond its historical and mythological importance as the possible location of the ‘lakshagriha’ from the Mahabharata, the area is also home to the tomb of the Sufi saint Badruddin Shah and a graveyard. This makes the site a central hub of religious and cultural significance. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is currently responsible for protecting and preserving this site, underscoring its value and historical importance.

The legal dispute originated in 1970 when Mukim Khan, the caretaker (mutwalli) of the graveyard, filed a petition aiming to establish ownership of the land. Khan sought to prevent Hindus from encroaching upon the site, alleging destruction of graves and conducting religious ceremonies (havan). Krishna dutt Maharaj, a local priest, was named as a defendant, representing the Hindu standpoint that the site held historical significance as the possible location of the ‘lakshagriha’ from the Mahabharata.

Ranveer Singh Tomar, the lawyer representing the Hindu side, emphasized the court’s findings that exposed notable shortcomings in the plaintiff’s claims regarding the property. The Muslim petitioners contended that the tomb of the Sufi saint was 600 years old, and a graveyard was later established on the site, declared as waqf property by the ‘Shah’ of that era. The court’s examination brought attention to these assertions, and Tomar likely highlighted the inconsistencies or lack of evidence supporting these claims as part of the legal argument for the Hindu side.

However, they failed to provide crucial details, such as the ruler’s name, and no government records mentioned the graveyard. Tomar emphasized, “The 32-page court order has found glaring loopholes in the plaintiff’s claims on the property.”

To support the Hindu claim, the court considered an Official Gazette dated December 12, 1920, provided by the defendants. This document, issued by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), mentioned a mound called ‘Lakha Mandap,‘ located south of the town. It was believed to be the site where an attempt was made to burn the Pandavas, situated in Barnawa, 19 miles northwest from Meerut in Sardhana tehsil. This historical reference from 1920 raised doubts about the Muslim side’s assertion that the disputed site was designated as waqf property or a graveyard during that period.

Shahid Ali, the advocate representing the Muslim petitioners, expressed their intention to appeal the decision, stating, “It is true that we have lost the case but we will certainly go to the higher court.”

The place is important not just because of the legal fight but also because it’s connected to India’s history and myths. KK Sharma, a history professor, highlighted that the mound holds layers of history. He’s the same person who found an ancient burial site in Sinauli, Baghpat in 2005.

KK Sharma, an associate professor in the history department at Multanimal PG College, Modinagar, and a key figure in the discovery of a Harappan-era burial site in Sinauli, Baghpat in 2005, remarked,“All these structures are built on top of an ancient mound. The history of different civilizations is buried within this mound. In 2018, painted grey ware pottery was unearthed during an ASI survey. This pottery is also discovered in Mathura, Meerut, and Hastinapur, all of which are mentioned in the Mahabharata…”

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