By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2022-05-18 08:01:20
The discovery of a shivling/fountain (depending on which side of the religious divide one is on) is likely to exacerbate matters between the Hindus and the Muslims on the issue of religious places. While the said discovery has enthused leaders of Hindu organizations and some BJP leaders as they are now convinced that they can take their war-cry "Ayodhya toh jhanki hai, Kashi-Mathura baki hai" forward, leaders of Muslim organizations have warned that any attempts to take over mosques on the plea that they were built after razing temples will be resisted by force and not in courts. Additionally, there are increasing demands that the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act be junked.
As a result of the discovery in Gyanvapi complex, courts all over India have been swamped with petitions from Hindus asking to be allowed to pray at mosques which they claim were built after razing temples. For Gyanvapi, petitions have already been filed for right to pray before the discovered shivling and demolition of the basement wall and removal of debris to find more evidence. At Mathura, pleas have been filed in courts to seek praying rights at the Mathura Idgah mosque. This is in addition to the ongoing dispute in Karnataka where Hindu right wing groups have demanded praying rights at Majid-e-Ala mosque in Srirangapatna in Madya district on the plea that a Hanuman temple was razed to build the mosque. Such pleas are going to multiply across India in coming days as assorted groups will 'find' many such mosques and other structures (the Taj Mahal and the Qutab Minar are already being targeted) which they will claim were temples earlier.
Muslim leaders like Asaduddin Owaisi have said the community would not like to lose one more mosque while referring to the Gyanvapi issue while asking the Supreme Court to do justice in the matter, others like Tauqeer Raza, the head of Ittehad Millat Council in Bareilly, has clearly warned that "the mosques shouldn't be touched, and if anything is done forcefully, Muslims will oppose the government". He also chillingly said that "Muslims don't need any legal fight as they have seen the Babri Mosque case. This time, we won't appeal in court".
This shows that the battle lines are clearly drawn. The Hindus will make a strong pitch to change the character of places of worship on the plea of historical wrongs and the Muslims will resist. Chances are that the battles will not be fought in courts this time. The situation that is building up is dangerous. If it is not defused, the country will likely head for a period of conflict that is going to pit communities against each other, start riots, result in destruction of public and private property, stall economic growth and make India an unfavourable business destination. The Supreme Court needs to step in and assure the nation that it will uphold the provisions of the Places of Worship Act. As the ruling party, the BJP too needs to take action against these groups who are bent on erasing history and creating mischief.