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regular-article-logo Sunday, 14 April 2024

Ram temple done, VHP demands Muslim community to hand over Gyanvapi mosque compound to Hindus

'The evidence collected by the Archaeological Survey of India from the Gyanvapi structure reconfirms that the mosque had been constructed after demolishing a magnificent temple', a statement said

J.P. Yadav New Delhi Published 28.01.24, 05:36 AM
Gyanvapi mosque

Gyanvapi mosque File picture

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a key Sangh Parivar member that spearheaded the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, has asked the Muslim community to hand over the Gyanvapi mosque compound in Varanasi to Hindus, pressing the sensitive issue in the run-up to the general election.

The demand, which opens up a new polarising plank after the Pran Pratistha in Ayodhya symbolically laid the Ram temple issue to rest, comes days after the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) claimed purported evidence that the Gyanvapi was built over the ruins of a temple.

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While the BJP has not commented officially on the subject, some senior party leaders have individually echoed the VHP demand.

Currently, the matter is before the Varanasi district court where the Hindu side has sought transfer of the entire compound — shared by the Gyanvapi and the reconstructed Kashi Vishwanath Temple.

The Hindu side has argued that the mosque was built after demolishing parts of the original temple during Aurangzeb’s rule. The mosque management committee has opposed the plea and dismissed the ASI findings as shallow and unscientific.

On Saturday, VHP international working president Alok Kumar cited the report of the ASI survey – carried out on a directive from the district court --- to say the mosque should “respectfully” be shifted and the site handed over to Hindus.

“The VHP calls upon Intezamia (mosque management) Committee to agree to respectfully shift the Gyanvapi Mosque to another appropriate place and to hand over the original site of the Kashi Vishwanath” temple to Hindus, Kumar said in a statement.

“The evidence collected by the ASI from the Gyanvapi structure reconfirms that the mosque had been constructed after demolishing a magnificent temple,” the statement added.

Kumar stressed that the ASI was an “official expert body” appointed by the court hearing the case.

The development so far mirrors the genesis of the Ram temple movement, which the VHP spearheaded before the BJP joined in, eyeing political gain.

Senior BJP leader and Union rural development minister Giriraj Singh had cited the ASI report on Friday to ominously hint at an impact on “communal harmony” if the site wasn’t handed over to Hindus.

“Now that all evidence is out, I will appeal to my Muslim brothers to hand over Kashi to Hindus so that communal harmony is maintained,” Giriraj said, maintaining that Kashi (Gyanvapi) and Mathura had always been on the agenda along with Ayodhya.

The Sangh Parivar claims that the Shahi Idgah mosque in Mathura was built on the ruins of a Krishna Janmasthan Temple.

The BJP’s official stand is that the Mathura and Kashi issues have been left to the courts. “Court and constitution will decide,” party president J.P. Nadda had said.

However, the Places of Worship Act, 1991, mandates status quo on all religious places as they existed on August 15, 1947, with the lone exception of the now-demolished Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.

But Kumar, a lawyer himself, argued: “The evidence collected and the conclusions provided by the ASI do prove that the religious character of this place of worship existed on the 15th day of August, 1947, and as at present is of a Hindu temple…. Thus, even as per Section 4 of the Places of Worship Act, 1991, the structure should be declared a Hindu temple.”

A BJP leader said: “The Gyanvapi issue is acquiring momentum on its own; there is no need for the party to speak on it.”

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