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Rajkot: Century-old Parsi graveyard crying for protection

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RAJKOT: The 100-year old Parsi graveyard in the city is crying for protection.

In the last one month, at least seven graves out of the 25 have been dug open by some anti-social elements with an intention to encroach upon the land sprawling 7,741 sq m. On Wednesday, four persons were arrested for trying to encroach upon the graveyard by resorting to vandalism and they were arrested under IPC sections for hurting religious sentiments and defiling the place of worship. The four were, however, granted bail on Wednesday.

Police visit the spot where the graves have been dug up
Police visit the spot where the graves have been dug up

The land was gifted to Rajkot Zarthosti Anjuman Trust (RZAT) by the British government to build the graveyard around 100 years ago. The city has just about 15 Parsis and the Trust alleges that the goons are trying to take advantage of their minuscule numbers.

“Since May 26, 2019, the goons have dug open seven graves. They also hacked down a 100-year-old tree on the land. We also shot off a letter the municipal commissioner seeking his intervention,” said Khushman Tamboli, trustee secretary of RZAT. Tamboli said the four accused persons – Dhiraj Pari, Jagdish Pari, Shani Pari and Aashiq Dalvani – who had encroached on the land, threatened him when he went there on May 26.

“I had submitted an application for complaint to the police on May 16 and they registered an FIR on Wednesday,” said Tamboli.

It was sometime in the 1970s that RZAT gave a portion of land to a couple of security guards who built eight rooms to live with families there. A dispute arose in the eighties when the trust asked the families to vacate the land, which led to a legal battle that is still ongoing.

Of the four, Dhiraj, Jagdish and Shani are members of the families living there, and, according to Tamboli, they contacted Dalvani to help them grab the land.

RZAT members alleged that the miscreants piled garbage and trees on the graves there.

Pradhumannagar police inspector B M Kataria said, “We arrested the four accused on Thursday and released them on bail. The trust has to appoint new trustees to take legal action as per the law. Those living on the graveyard land claim that the land belongs to them, so we have also asked them to produce the relevant documents.”

Published on Times of India