Posted on September 18th, 2019


Very unfortunate are those who fail in protecting the places of worship belonging to other religions and in giving them due regard. Be it a temple, church, cathedral or a mosque; all places of worship are sacred and sublime. Honour and respect for all such places are strictly stressed upon by every religion. There have been so many examples in the recent history where holy places of worship belonging to other religions were brutally disrespected rather insulted but the demolition of the Babri Mosque in Uttar Pradesh India is the ever worst among all these examples though Hinduism in no way preaches and promotes violence, hatred or extremism. A large group of Hindu activists of the Vishva Hindu Parishad and allied organizations demolished the 16th-century Babri Mosque in the city of Ayodhya on 6 December 1992. Reports say that the demolition occurred after a political rally organized at the site by Hindu nationalists turned violent. An inquiry was held to look into the matter which found 68 people responsible, including several leaders of the BJP and the VHP. The inter-communal riots between India’s Hindu and Muslim communities resulted in the death of more than 2000 people. The act was widely condemned even by a large number of Hindus have a moderate approach towards religion; some NGOs also staged protest demonstrations against the incident but all these efforts proved in vain and futile because the Hindu extremists laid the foundations of a temple at the place of the Babri Mosque. Now seventeen years after the incident, once again, another incident of the same type is in the making. The Gyanvapi mosque in the Varanasi area of Indian province Uttar Pradesh is very soon going to be converted into a temple.

According to the details provided by the Indian media, Mr. Narendra Modi had promised to materialize the reconstruction of an old temple Kashi Vishwanath when he was addressing a political session in Varanasi (old name Banaras) on the eve of filing nomination papers for Lok Sabha 2019. In the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh along the River Ganges the city Varanasi is regarded as the spiritual capital of India. Every year thousands of Hindu pilgrims come to this city to have a sacred bath in the River Ganges. There are more than 2,000 temples in Varanasi; Kashi Vishwanath is the central one. Gyanvapi is a very ancient mosque situated very close rather adjacent to the Kashi Vishwanath temple. This mosque is a serious hurdle in the extension project of Kashi Vishwanath temple. This mosque was built by the Mughal King Aurangzeb somewhere in 1664. This area is in the constituency of Mr. Modi and he has directed Yogi Adityanath the Chief Minister to work as the caretaker of the project. Yogi Adityanath, an extremist Hindu monk is the founder of Hindu Yuva Vahini, a youth organization that has been involved in communal violence. In June 2017, an article of Dhirendra K Jha was published in Aljazeera which said, Although Yuva Vahini was registered as a cultural organization, the HYV worked like a Hindu nationalist militia, trying to create a fear of minorities – especially Muslims – among the majority Hindus. Its preferred tactic was to frame every argument and altercation between a Hindu and Muslim in religious terms and turn it into a mini-sectarian riot.” This organization headed by Yogi Adityanath has always remained engaged in a campaign to forcibly convert Muslims to Hinduism.

Reports say that in January 2015 the Vahini men forced nearly 300 local Muslims of Ghazipur village in eastern Uttar Pradesh to convert to Hinduism under the guidance of Yogi Adityanath. In February 2015, more than 80 Muslims of Bhibani village in Kushinagar were forcibly converted to Hinduism. Now the same Yogi Adityanath has been assigned the task of demolishing the Gyanvapi mosque. The work there is in the process; the aimed target is to clear up an area of 45000 meters and spare 50 feet wide pathways for the pilgrims. This area consists of more than 300 houses which are home to more than 1000 families. The Gyanvapi mosque is also one of the buildings supposed to be demolished. The people living in this area belong to a very poor class, doing odd jobs to keep them alive. They have no power or force to stop the Hindu extremists from throwing them out of their houses with all their bags and baggage.

The members of Yuva Vahini say that King Aurangzeb had demolished a temple to build this mosque; now the scenario is being changed to its original. To prove their stance some Hindu extremist activists had attempted to burry an idol of bull to claim that the mosque site was a Hindu site. Maulana Abdul Salam Nomani had been the Imam of the Gyanvapi mosque before his death in 1987. He had flatly rejected the blame of Hindu extremists that the mosque was built after destroying a temple. According to him, the foundation of the mosque was laid by the third Mughal emperor Akbar, and Akbar’s grandson and Aurangzeb’s father Shah Jahan started a madrasah called Imam-e-Sharifat at the site of the mosque in 1638. He said that the mosque never had anything to do with any temple. In fact, this is the same story that was narrated by the Hindu extremists in the case of the Babri mosque. The conflict on the Gyanvapi mosque is not a new one; for the last many decade’s extremist Hindu groups have been continuously claiming rights to the land of the Gyanvapi mosque. There had been serious disputes on this issue many times. In 1936, after disputes with the Hindu residents of the area, the local Muslim community filed a suit in a civil court of (Banaras) Varanasi. In 1937, the court decided in favour of the Muslims and allowed them to offer prayers in the mosque as they desired. In 1991, the government of Narasimha Rao passed ‘The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act’ which stated that all religious sites would be maintained as they were on 15 August 1947. Even after approval and implementation of this Act, Somnath Vyas; an activist of RSS, filed a case in a Varanasi civil court demanding that the mosque site be handed over to the Kashi Vishwanath temple. The tragic incident of demolition of the Babri Mosque in 1992 became a hurdle and the matter could not go further. Now things are again in a horrible situation. The Hindu extremists are eager to repeat the history of the Babri Mosque in Varanasi. But one thing must always be kept in mind; BJP, Yuva Vahini, Vishva Hindu Parishad, and Mr. Modi do not reflect the true face of Indian society which is a society of love and care for everyone. Such extremism simply mars the serene face of a peaceful society.

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