January 20, 2022

Published from Mumbai, Delhi & Bhopal

Two Village Women freed a graveyard from encroachers

Team Absolute|Bhopal They are not allowed to perform funeral prayers but that didn’t stop a group of gritty women in Misrod village from leading a two-year-old fight against encroachers trying to take over a local cemetery. At the forefront of this fight is 48-yearold Farida Bano. She, along with her friend Munnawwar Jehan who died last year at the age of 35, were the first to protest the encroachments. The two had come together in 2017 to stop miscreants who, with the support of local mafia, were trying to encroach upon the Misrod cemetery that houses the graves of their grandparents. Bano while talking to Absolute India said, “Jehan stood up against the miscreants when she first came to know about the encroachments in 2017. They threatened her but she was not afraid. Seeing Jehan raise her voice against the illegal occupation of the graveyard where our elders are resting, I too joined the fight.” The encroachments had first come to light in 2017. Word had spread around the village that some people were trying to occupy the graveyard. When Jehan saw that it was true, she protested against it. However, no formal complaint was lodged in the matter at the time, said Bano. Over the next few months, more women joined Jehan and Bano, and together they began making efforts to rid the graveyard of its illegal occupants. Bano recalled the days and months spent on the wooden benches of the tehsil office in Huzur to collect documents such as land records and an official map of the Misrod graveyard. In the two years, from 2017 to 2019, Bano said they approached the subdivisional magistrate, the collectorate, the local police station and even the superintendent of police, Madhya Pradesh, as well as the regional Waqf Board to save their graveyard. Mohammed Ahmad Khan, acting chief executive officer of the Madhya Pradesh Waqf Board said, “Some people had even done some land agreements on the Waqf Board property of the Misrod graveyard. We acted on the complaints made by the women and cancelled all those illegal land dealings.Bano and the group of women have now been raising funds to build a boundary wall to protect the cemetery from further occupations.” Today, the graveyard is free from encroachment. But we know that land grabbers might come again. All of us are together and extensively supporting the fight to keep the cemetery free from the hands of encroachers,” said Tehseem Mansoori, Bano’s neighbour and a part of the group. Bano also said she was “prepared and ready for a long fight” to save the graveyard. However, impressed by their struggle to get the graveyard freed Bhopal central MLA Arif Masood has agreed to bear the cost of the boundary wall of the graveyard.

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