The Shahidganj mosque, located in Landa bazaar outside Delhi gate at Lahore, was considered as the holy place for both Muslims and Sikhs. It was occupied by Sikhs in the eighteenth century and was used as a Sikh gurdwara for almost 170 years. Though through out that period Muslims were not allowed to offer prayers in the mosque, yet the building was physically kept intact.
The Muslims kept on protesting against the Sikh occupation of the Mosque for a long time. However, the situation got out of control when, suddenly on 29 June 1935, the Sikh community announced to demolish the Mosque. On the same night, a Muslim crowd of three or four thousand assembled in front of the mosque to protect it. A direct fight between this crowd and the Sikhs inside the gurdwara was averted by the intervention of the government authorities. Later, the British took an undertaking from the Sikhs that they would not further demolish the mosque. But, during the next week, while strenuous efforts were being made to persuade the leaders to reach an amicable settlement, the Sikh leaders, under pressure from the extremist element, again set out to demolish the mosque.
In the beginning, the Muslim leaders reacted in a mild way. Anjuman-i-Tahaffuz-i-Masjid Shahidganj (a committee for the protection of the Shahidganj mosque) was founded by a wide spectrum of Unionist Muslims, lawyers, journalists and biradari leaders to find legal means to protect the mosque and press for peaceful settlement of the issue. However, leaders like Maulana Zafar Ali Khan warned that the issue could lead to a great bloodshed if the matter was not settled immediately for the Muslims would not hesitate to make any sacrifice to preserve the mosque.
Appreciating the importance of the issue, Sir Herbert Emerson, the Governor of the Punjab, encouraged a negotiated