Rajat Sharma

Gyanvapi order: Both Hindus, Muslims should not overreact

AKB30 Two major developments took place on Monday (Sept 12). First, the announcement was made that the idol of Ram Lala will be installed on January 14 (Makar Sankranti) in 2024 inside the sanctum sanctorum of Ram Temple in Ayodhya, presently undergoing construction.

Second, the district court in Varanasi held as maintainable the suit filed by five Hindu women seeking the right to perform daily worship of Goddess Shringar-Gauri and other “visible and invisible deities” in the Gyanvapi mosque complex, near the famous Kashi Vishwanath temple. The court said, the Places of Worship Act, 1991, is not a bar in this case as the plaintiffs never asked for the mosque to be converted into a temple.

District Judge Ajaya Krishna Visheshva, in his 26-page order, said: “According to the plaintiffs, they worshipped Maa Shringar Gauri, Lord Hanuman at the disputed place regularly even after 15th August, 1947….(hence) the suit of the plaintiffs is not barred by Section 9 of Places of Worship Act, 1991.” The judge rejected the petition of Anjuman Intezamia Masajid challenging the maintainability of the suit. The district judge will begin hearing on the original plea from September 22.

The court’s order is very much limited, but it is going to have unlimited consequences. Sweets were distributed and fireworks took place, when Hindus celebrated the court order in Varanasi, Kanpur and Jammu. These visuals prompted AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi to raise objections.

Owaisi said, “a destabilizing effect will start after this. We are going on the same path as that of Babri Masjid issue. When judgement on Babri Masjid was given, I warned everyone that this will create problems in the country as that judgement was given on the basis of faith. I believe that after this order, the very purpose of bringing Places of Worship Act will fail. Anjuman Intezamia Masajid Committee should appeal against this order in higher court”.

Owaisi said, the judge did not go through the evidences before giving this order. Owaisi is a barrister and he knows the finer nuances of law. This order has nothing to do with evidences and arguments. The order was on maintainability of the petition. The question of who was in control of Gyanvapi in 1883, what happened in 1897, what is written in The Gazetteer in 1942, all these matters would come up when the hearing will begin.

In their petition, the five Hindu women had sought permission to perform regular prayers of Shringar Gauri, Lord Ganesh and Lord Hanuman inside the Gyanvapi campus. They had said that there used to be pooja of Shringar Gauri throughout the year before 1993, but the state government put a ban on prayers that year. The Muslim side wanted that the petition be dismissed because it was against the Places of Worship Act, 1991, Waqf Act of 1995 and Shri Kashi Vishwanath Act of 1983. The Hindu petitioners said that their plea does not alter the title or structure of the religious place, and it was only limited to prayers. The district judge accepted their plea.

The district judge, in his order, dealt with three main points.

One, whether the suit is barred by Places of Worship Act: The court said, “They have not sought the relief for converting the place of worship from a mosque to a temple….only demanding right to worship Maa Shringar Gauri..Therefore the Places of Worship Act, 1991 does not operate as the bar.”

Two, whether the suit is barred by Section 85 of Waqf Act, 1995: the court said, “..it does not operate in the present case because the plaintiffs are non-Muslims”.

Three, whether the suit is barred by UP Sri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Act, 1980: On this, the court said, “….no bar has been imposed by the Act regarding a suit claiming right to worship idols installed in the endowment within the premises of the temple, or outside.”

Vishnu Shankar Jain, lawyer for Hindu petitioners, said, it is yet to be decided whether the place was a temple or a mosque. “We will seek carbon dating and demolition of the walls of ‘wazukhana’ during the hearing”, he added.

Owaisi and Muslim clerics are worried that after the Ayodhya judgement, more disputes will now be reopened, beginning with Varanasi and Mathura. Maulana Saeed Noori of Raza Academy, Mumbai, said, “the path has now been opened. More claims will be made on mosques and churches now.”

I feel both the Hindu and Muslim sides overreacted to today’s order of district court. Hindus, by beating drums and setting off firecrackers, celebrated as if they have got the permission to offer prayers inside Gyanvapi mosque, while Muslim leaders reacted as if the order has opened the way for demolition of the mosque and building of a temple. There is nothing in the order to substantiate these feelings.

Hindus, by chanting ‘Har Har Mahadev’, acted as if the Shivling has been installed inside Gyanvapi mosque, while Muslim leaders reacted as if thousands of mosques across India are now in danger. The interpretations from both sides are not correct. Today’s order is limited only to the maintainability of the petition seeking permission for revival of prayers. Both sides should wait for the final verdict in Gyanvapi dispute.

Remarks made by petitioners or leaders will not have any effect on the court hearings or its final verdict. However, some facts should be made clear right now. For nearly 500 years, there were clashes over the Ayodhya issue, and the matter was finally disposed of in Supreme Court. Temples were demolished to build mosques in Kashi and Mathura. On this point, nobody can have two opinions, and even probes are not needed. But, it is also true that the disputes are not limited to only three religious places. There are more than 3,000 mosques, when temples used to exist. If all these disputes reach the courts, the judiciary will not have time for other cases.

Peaceful negotiation is the only way out to put a full stop to such disputes, once and for all. Some may argue that Places of Religious Worship Act is already in place since 1991, but the reality is that the objection was not to end all disputes. The real objection was to prevent Hindus from staking claims on those disputed places, which are under the control of Muslims since several centuries.

Since the intention was not bonafide, this law was opposed by Hindu organizations. This law has now been challenged again, and the Supreme Court will start hearing from October 11. Only after the Supreme Court verdict, a way can be found out to put a stop all such disputes in future, but still there is no guarantee. Politics comes in the path of resolving all such disputes. The moment one dispute ends, another crops up.

Get connected on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

Comments are closed.