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Repetition of Babri Masjid chapter

Repetition of  Babri Masjid chapter

The Gyanvapi Mosque next to Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi (left) and the Shahi Idgah, which is adjacent to the Krishna Janmabhoomi temple in Mathura | Photos: Commons

The three-domed Babri mosque was built by Mir Baqi, on the orders of the first Mughal Emperor Zaheeruddin Babur in 1528 at Faizabad, presently known as Ayodhya. Prayers were uninterruptibly offered at the mosque from then until December 22, 1949. The next morning, when the Muslims came for prayers, they saw idols in the center of the mosque. The agitated devotees informed authorities of the incident. Following this, the then-District Magistrate, KK Nair from Alappuzha issued a curfew order under Section 145 of the CrPC at an exponential speed. The mosque was taken over by the government. The Sunni Central Waqf Board, which owns the mosque, filed a petition in the court against it, but on the other hand, Hindu organizations also approached the court, which eventually led the matter to get settled in Allahabad High Court. The Babri Masjid remained closed to the public for decades as the court kept the issue under cold storage for long. On February 6, 1986, when Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister of India, Faizabad District Judge K.M. Pandey unilaterally opened the mosque to Hindus for worship without even giving notice to the Sunni Central Waqf Board.

One need not be reminded about the history of the agitations, riots, and regime changes that happened in the country following this. It created an opportunity for total Hindu-Muslim polarization in the country. Those with eyesight can see how the Sangh Parivar was able to establish power through it and that the country still has to pay a heavy price for it. In a landmark verdict on November 9, 2019, a five-member constitutional bench headed by the then Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi declared the Babri land to be handed over to the parties in the case on their behalf, out of respect for the faith and sentiment of the majority community; while observing that there was no evidence of the existence of a temple or any other building on the site of the Babri Masjid. The real heirs of the demolished Babri Masjid surrendered to the verdict, albeit in complete pain. Nowhere in the country was there a single voice from the Muslim side. However, the Parliament had passed a law in April 1991 stating that all places of worship in the country remained in the hands of those who owned them as of August 15, 1947 and no further disputes or encroachments were allowed. The controversial Babri Masjid was the only exception. The Supreme Court's decision to hand over the Babri land to the Ram temple also reminded us of the inviolability of that law. The Muslim minority was living at ease and at peace with the aforementioned law and the Supreme Court. They believed that at least this law would be enforced if the freedom of religion guaranteed by the Constitution had any meaning.

But what is happening now? The Hindutva has claimed that the Gyanvapi Masjid, which was located next to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple for centuries and is now under the control of the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, was an ancient Shivlinga temple. On April 26, 2022, a Varanasi civil judge appointed a video survey team on a petition filed by five Hindu women seeking permission to worship there. Even before the survey committee has completed its work and submitted its report to the court, the interested parties have started a commotion that a Shiv Linga has been found under the Wuzukhana (ablution area) attached to the mosque. UP Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, on the other hand, hailed the discovery of the Shiv Linga and said, "No matter how much is hidden, the truth will come out one day." However, the fact that the discovery was not of a Shiv Linga but a fountain in the middle of a reservoir called 'Houdi', pointed out by the mosque governing body is not a problem for the descendants of those who previously discovered the self-contained idol of Lord Rama in the Babri Masjid. In any case, the issue is now before the Supreme Court. Peacemakers hope that the Supreme Court, which was reminded of a previous ruling in the 1991 Place of Worship Act, will not issue a ruling in the case of Gyanvapi Masjid that would adversely affect the integrity and the rule of law. If the secularist parties realise at least now that it is their fear of losing majority votes and of the Hindutva groups making capital out of it that has enabled the Hindutva forces to dominate the country, they should adopt a bold stand in this matter.

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TAGS:Babri MasjidVaranasi Gyanvapi MosqueGyanvapi Mosque
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