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Monday, May 27, 2024

Another Temple-Mosque Debate

On August 3, the Allahabad High Court allowed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct a survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex. Despite the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act of 1991, which prohibits conversion of places of worship, lawsuits persist, advocating Hindu prayer rights at Hindu deities in the complex and calling for videography surveys and carbon dating of the “shivling”. The Supreme Court, while delivering its judgement on the Ayodhya dispute, upheld the 1991 law as intrinsic to the obligations of a secular state, preventing history from being used to oppress the present and future. However, the court’s intervention in the subsequent Gyanvapi masjid complex litigation remains questionable.

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In the wake of the Ayodhya dispute resolution, a new battleground has emerged in the form of the Gyanvapi mosque and Vishwanath temple issue in Varanasi. Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, has asserted that the Gyanvapi complex was once a temple, challenging the Muslim community to acknowledge a historical error. This assertion comes amid growing lawfare seeking to establish the Hindi antecedents of the Gyanvapi complex. On August 3, the Allahabad High Court allowed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct a survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex. Despite the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act of 1991, which prohibits conversion of places of worship, lawsuits persist, advocating Hindu prayer rights at Hindu deities in the complex and calling for videography surveys and carbon dating of the “shivling”. The Supreme Court, while delivering its judgement on the Ayodhya dispute, upheld the 1991 law as intrinsic to the obligations of a secular state, preventing history from being used to oppress the present and future. However, the court’s intervention in the subsequent Gyanvapi masjid complex litigation remains questionable.

Opportunities for the Supreme Court to intervene were missed in May 2022 and again in July when the mosque committee approached the court. Instead of ending the proceedings based on the Places of Worship Act, the court transferred the suit to the Varanasi district judge. This pusillanimity at the highest level has led to lower courts questioning the nature of the Gyanvapi mosque and ordering videograph and ASI surveys, revealing a “Shivling” in the complex’s pond. A similar process unfolds in the Mathura courts concerning the Idgah-Krishna Janmabhoomi issue, indicating a pattern of Hindutva forces employing lawfare to advance their interests, while lower judiciary appears complicit. To uphold secular values and prevent misuse of judicial power, the Supreme Court must act decisively and apply the 1991 law, which it endorsed unequivocally in the Ayodhya judgment. Nipping this mischief in the bud will safeguard the principles of religious harmony and prevent extrajudicial methods from altering ground realities.

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In the parliamentary constituency of Narendra Modi, where these events transpire, the need for impartiality and adherence to the rule of law becomes even more crucial. The Supreme Court’s intervention can set a precedent for a fair and just resolution in this highly contentious matter. It is imperative for the apex court to assert itself and put an end to the attempts to alter the status quo of religious places through litigation. By doing so, the court will reaffirm its commitment to preserving the secular fabric of the country and prevent further escalation of communal tensions. The Gyanvapi mosque and Vishwanath temple issue has the potential to stoke religious sentiments and trigger unrest. Therefore, the Supreme Court must act responsibly and swiftly, ensuring that the law remains the guiding force in resolving such sensitive matters. The nation looks to the highest judiciary for reassurance that the principles enshrined in the Places of Worship Act are upheld without compromise. A decisive and principled stand by the Supreme Court can help preserve India’s cherished diversity and foster a climate of mutual respect among all religious communities. Only then can we truly embrace the spirit of unity in our rich tapestry of beliefs and traditions.

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The Hills Times
The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
Welcome to The Hills Times, your trusted source for daily news and updates in English from the heart of Assam, India. Since our establishment in 2000, we've been dedicated to providing timely and accurate information to our readers in Diphu and Guwahati. As the first English newspaper in the then undemarcated Karbi Anglong district, we've forged a strong connection with diverse communities and age groups, earning a reputation for being a reliable source of news and insights. In addition to our print edition, we keep pace with the digital age through our website, https://thehillstimes.in, where we diligently update our readers with the latest happenings day by day. Whether it's local events, regional developments, or global news, The Hills Times strives to keep you informed with dedication and integrity. Join us in staying ahead of the curve and exploring the world through our lens.
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