Rajat Sharma


AKb (1) After a gap of 31 years, worship of Shringar Gauri and other deities resumed inside the southern cellar of Gyanvapi mosque complex in Varanasi, in the early hours of Thursday. This follows an order from District Judge Ajaya Krishna Vishvesha allowing prayers inside the cellar, which had been locked after the Babri mosque demolition in Ayodhya. The divisional commissioner Kaushal Raj Sharma has clarified that only priests, and not devotees, will be allowed inside the cellar. The steel barricades to isolate the mosque for security purposes, has been cut to create a passage for priests to enter the cellar. On Friday, the Allahabd High Court refused to give relief to the Muslims side, represented by Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, seeking a stay on pooja being performed inside the cellar. A single bench of Justice Rohit Ranjan Aggarwal directed the Advocate General to ensure law and order within and outside the Gyanvapi mosque complex in view of the latest developments. The cellar was washed with Ganga water, purification rites were performed and at around 3.30 am on Thursday morning, prayers were offered by priests led by Ganeshwar Shastri, deputed by Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple rust. All this happened in the presence of Varanasi divisional commissioner, the district collector and police chief. The cellar, called Vyas Ji Ka Tehkhana, is owned by Vyas family, and the family members expressed happiness over the resumption of pooja. The idols inside the cellar include a Shivling, Hanuman and Ganesh idols, and the idol of Ma Ganga riding a crocodile. The cellar is located below the disputed Wazukhana, right opposite the huge Nandi idol of Kashi Vishwanath temple. On early Thursday morning, the Muslim side approached the Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud, seeking an urgent hearing, but the apex court directed them to first file an appeal before the High Court. The Muslim side argued that since Places of Worship Act is in force since 1991, there was no point on raising fresh disputes over places of worship. On Thursday, Muslim clerics and leaders met in an emergency meeting at Jamiat Ulama E Hind head office. It was attended by Maulana Arshad Madni, Mehmood Madni, leaders from Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, All India Muslim Personal Law Board and Jamaat-e-Ahle-Hadees. AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi also attended. The Gyanvapi mosque controversy is a sensitive issue. It is a fact that prayers were being offered inside the cellar till 1993. It is also a fact that the district court has only restored that tradition. Since it is an order from the court, and not from any government or political party, there should be no objection over resumption of pooja. Given this, one needs to deal with the issue with caution and understanding. The Muslim community will view this development with suspicion. There are many such elements who will allege that the Babri mosque was first demolished, and it is now the turn of Gyanvapi mosque. There are many elements who will try to project this as a step taken by PM Modi and CM Yogi. Already there are posts circulating in social media attributing malafide motives to the district judge, who issued this order on the last working day of his service. Already, some Muslim clerics like Maulana Tauqir Raza, are trying to create tension in the minds of Muslim youths over this issue. The maulana has threatened that if such developments continue, it would be difficult for elders of Muslim community to keep the temper of youths under control. I think, Muslim clerics should refrain from giving such provocative statements. They must not allow anybody to disturb social harmony, at any cost. Sadhus and saints, and intellectuals from Hindu side should also remember what Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said on January 22 after the consecration ceremony of Ram Lalla idol in Ayodhya. Modi had then said, this is not the time of ‘vijay’ (victory), but of ‘vinay’ (humility). Hindu society must also remember what RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had said on Dussehra. He had said, it will be wrong to hunt for Shiv Linga under each mosque. Whatever may be the claims, howsoever justified and linked to religious sentiments, one must try to take into consideration the sensitivities of Muslim community too. Muslim clerics and leaders, on their part, should also keep social harmony in mind before making incendiary remarks.

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