Saturday, April 1, 2023
HomeIndiaHow a group of gritty women in Bhopal's Misrod village freed a...

How a group of gritty women in Bhopal’s Misrod village freed a cemetery from encroachers

Farida Bano, Munnabrr Jehan and a few other women in Bhopal's Misrod village led a two-year-long fight to free a cemetery that was illegally occupied by local land mafia.

Text Size:

Bhopal: They are not allowed to perform salat al-janazah (funeral prayers) but that didn’t stop a group of gritty women in Bhopal’s 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-year-old Farida Bano. She, along with her friend Munnabrr 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.

“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 cemetery where our elders are resting, I too joined the fight,” Bano told ThePrint.

The encroachments had first come to light in 2017. Word had spread around the village that some people were trying to occupy the cemetery. 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 cemetery of its illegal occupants.

Also read: On brink of collapse, Kamal Nath govt ‘targets’ BJP MLAs with raids, notices, demolition

Two-year-long fight to free cemetery

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 cemetery.

In the two years, from 2017 to 2019, Bano said they approached the sub-divisional 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.

“Some people had even done some land agreements on the Waqf Board property of the Misrod cemetery. We acted on the complaints made by the women and cancelled all those illegal land dealings. They (Jehan and Bano) are responsible citizens,” Mohammed Ahmad Khan, acting chief executive officer of the Madhya Pradesh Waqf Board told ThePrint.

ThePrint tried contacting the office of the Bhopal upper collector and the CEO, zila panchayat but they remained unavailable for comments. This article will be updated as and when their comments are received.

During this time, Bano added, the miscreants had also humiliated them by passing lewd remarks but the women remained strong and continued their fight. The graveyard was finally freed in 2019 but Jehan died a few months before that.

“Her sudden death due to a heart attack has now made me responsible to protect the cemetery from such encroachments in the future,” Bano said.

File photo of Farida Bano | By special arrangement
File photo of Farida Bano | By special arrangement

‘Ready to fight again’

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 cemetery 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 cemetery..

Also read: EC to probe Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s ‘chopper’ row with Madhya Pradesh IAS officer


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism

Most Popular