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Gulu Muslim Cemetery paves way for construction of new street

Muslim youth exhume remains of hundreds from cemetery where a new street will pass

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GULU–The Muslim community in Gulu District have started relocating remains of at least 320 Muslims of Asian and Nubian origins from Gulu Muslim Cemetery to pave way for construction of roads in the municipality

The exhumation of the remains started on Wednesday mainly by Muslim youth in Gulu. By press time Saturday, at least 20 graves had been dug and remains exhumed and relocated, according to Crime24‘s Jackson Kitara in the northern district.

The cemetery will now be relocated to Lawiye Adul village in Laliya parish, Bungatira subcounty, about 6km from Gulu town, Kitara said.

Gulu Muslim Cemetery is located at Nakasero village, Pece division in Gulu municipality in the heart of Gulu town.

The cemetery, with some 320 graves, sits on half of an acre of land along Acholi Road, Opposite Gulu Main Bus Park.

It was started in around 1950s by Indian communities that were doing business in Gulu as a final resting place for burying their dear ones.

In 1972, Uganda Muslim Supreme Council took over the management of the cemetery after President Idi Amin had expelled Indians from Uganda.

Paving way for a street

But now Gulu Municipal Council wants the cemetery relocated to pave way for a street joining Keyo road via Acholi road to Cemetery road, in a plan that would take at least one-third of the cemetery land.

The planned construction is part of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) project to tarmac 21 roads in Gulu municipality at the tune of Shs66 billion.

Muslim leaders in the region had earlier rejected the planned road construction on the cemetery, saying it would disturb peace of their loved ones and asked the council to let them beautify the graveyard instead.

Sheik Musa Khalil, the Khadi of Acholi jurisdiction, said the leadership of the Muslim community in the district has finally agreed to relocate the cemetery, ending controversies spanning several years.

“We have painfully agreed to the redevelopment after several considerations and negotiations,” Sheik Khalil said

Imam Sheik Ismael Ali Omona , the Jamiah Gulu main mosque, said they have started exhuming the remains and reburying them at Lawiye Adul

“Lawiye Adul is our old cemetery where we are burying our dear ones and unclaimed bodies since Gulu Muslim Cemetery was already filled up,” Omona said.

“We do not perform rituals when exhuming and reburial of dead bodies like in African cultures and exhuming and reburial of the body is allowed in some circumstances and this one we are doing in Gulu Muslim Cemetery to allow construction of road is one such,” Ibrahim Abdu Okwii, an elder in Gulu main mosque Massid, said.

George Labeja, mayor of Gulu municipality, said they have paid Sh68 million to help the Muslim community exhume and rebury remains of the 320 souls.

“Relocating Gulu Muslim Cemetery will allow us to construct Acholi road and also open a road that connects Keyo road via Acholi road to cemetery road,” he said.

Labeja said they have advised the Muslim community that since the leaseholds for the cemetery land had expired; they should apply for another land title so that they develop the areas.

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