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Gyanvapi Mosque is the new Babri Masjid for BJP | OPINION

Gyanvapi Mosque is the new Babri Masjid for BJP | OPINION

Calls for annulling the Places of Worship Act are growing as a spontaneous reaction, stemming from “sentiments of the people”.

People are being made to fall for this propaganda, engineered by the hate-mongers since no one is asking the government about high inflation and unemployment.

The recent controversy surrounding the Gyanvapi Mosque is the lowest point in history since the Babri Masjid demolition.

Evolution and history are not static processes. Places, events, and sites keep evolving. So, today no one can claim to be the original inheritors or custodians of a site or legacy.

ALSO READ | Shivling or fountain in Gyanvapi mosque? Here’s what IIT-BHU experts say

India is currently leading the world in pollution deaths. However, in 2022, we are debating whether Aurangzeb, who died 315 years ago, left the shiva linga intact at Gynavapi Mosque or not.

FASCISTS CARRYING OUT AYODHYA EXPERIMENT

It won’t be an understatement to say that the Ayodhya judgement has opened the floodgates for fascists who have been further emboldened to carry out the Ayodhya experiment on a pan-India basis.

Even if we consider the Mughals as foreigners, which the right-wing is trying to imply, then there will be fewer original inhabitants of India left, starting from the Aryans to the Dravidians.

We also need to keep in mind that a large number of Hindus converted to Islam as they found themselves in the lowest strata of the rigid caste system and willingly gave up the temples which were converted into mosques – which does not imply that the Gyanvapi Mosque was a temple in the past.

We also need to keep in mind the alacrity with which the courts have moved in favour of majoritarian sentiments.

ALSO READ | Gyanvapi case: Do all mosques have fountains in wazukhanas? | Ground Report

In the past, too, concerted efforts have been made to make the Gyanvapi Mosque a disputed site, despite the Places of Worship Act. The act prohibits conversion of any place of worship and provides for maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on August 15, 1947, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto, which clearly states that any religious site as on August 15, 1947, or before, will not be altered.

LOWER COURT’S ROLE

The lower court’s role in escalating the mandir-masjid issues cannot be ignored at this point.

When the case was pending before the Allahabad High Court, a second petition was filed before a civil court in Varanasi. It asked for the right to perform rituals in the Gyanvapi Complex.

On April 8, 2022, a civil judge appointed Ajay Kumar as an advocate commissioner to undertake a videographic survey of the Mosque completely contradicting the Places of Worship Act.

Amid the Gyanvapi Mosque row, BSP chief Mayawati said that the religious places here are being targeted by the BJP and its associates to divert attention from unemployment and skyrocketing inflation, and called it a conspiracy to provoke the religious sentiments of the people.

That the Gyanvapi Mosque issue could heighten tensions between the two communities and open a Pandora’s box to other places of worship is a frightening possibility.

In Muraqqa Banaras, compiled by Maulana Nabi Ahmed Sandelvi, pages 286 to 319 discuss in detail that the ancient Vishwanath Mandir site was elsewhere and that the Gyanvapi issue is a latter-day invention as there are strong sources that claim that the monument was constructed during the Jaunpur Sultanate, predating the Mughals and went through elaborate reconstructions/renovations and was not built on any mandir, but on the pond filled by Buddhist rulers.

HISTORICAL FACTS

A simple carbon dating would be enough to debunk a lot of narratives. It is a historical fact that hundreds of Buddhist and Jain temples and monasteries were destroyed by Hindus during the revival of Hinduism in the Gupta Era. No one is questioning that.

Samajwadi Party leader Rubina Khanum recently gave a statement on Gyanvapi Masjid located in Varanasi. She said if the Gyanvapi Mosque was built by demolishing the temple then the Muslim brothers should hand over that land to the Hindu brothers — so much for so-called secular parties taking a stand on divisive issues in Uttar Pradesh.

It is ironic that in the quest for peace when they sought Muslims to surrender Babri Masjid and a lot of Muslims did rally around groups to give up the Babri Masjid voluntarily, they didn’t fathom the peace they were looking for would ultimately become a landmine for future explosions.

BABRI MASJID VERDICT TRAUMA

The trauma of the Babri Masjid verdict — when a grave wrong was whitewashed by the courts in exchange for majoritarian appeasement — remains a dark chapter in our lives.

I still remember that I was in Bengaluru to attend an event and was spending the night with my best friend who happened to be a Hindu. The unease as the television channels read out the headlines was palpable as we tried not to take heed of what was unfurling and went on to discuss something else.

Her decency at that time to not discuss this will remain embedded in my mind for times to come.

HARMING SOCIAL HARMONY

It’s also quite baffling how Muslims could keep hidden a shiva linga for centuries inside the Gyanvapi Mosque and how people cannot see through the fascists’ nefarious designs — all these episodes of engaging the country in manufactured Hindu-Muslim tensions will definitely lead us to the pre-stone age era, and more such things are being planned purely as a diversionary tactic. And if we are going back centuries and doing much harm to the social harmony of the country by desecrating and dismantling the present, then we need to travel all the way up and come to the moot point — what existed before the temple? Whom did the land belong to? Was the land snatched away forcibly from the locals, and so on and so forth.

It is shocking how gullible people can be these days. With the help of government-aided media, one can plant any story to fool the public.

Isn’t it time we question the government on the economy, inflation, unemployment, depreciation of the rupee, fuel prices, health and education ramp up?

It is also astounding how a cylindrical piece of stone could turn into a shiva linga. It could also be a stone water sprinkler, what’s even more surprising is the fact that images from the site went viral even before the survey report and due judgement.

Now that the Ram Janam Bhoomi issue has settled dust, the BJP is stoking new embers to keep the fire of communalism burning.

It is time the judiciary stands up to protect the rule of law in the country and ensures that democracy does not give way to religious fascism in these troubling times.

(This article is authored by Saira Shah Halim, who is a gender and rights activist, an educator and a politician. All views are personal.)

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