Gyanvapi Mosque Issue

ByManaksha Memon

A social worker devoted to social causes


September 18, 2022

Manaksha Memon discusses a
contentious issue

Gripped by communal fear India, under its ultra-rightist ruling party, is relentlessly pursuing intense on the Gyanvapi Mosque issue which is anti-Muslim agenda to the detriment of its sizeable Muslim population. Then extremist Hindutva perception has strongly proved that India is only a place of abode for Hindus and no other community should dare to consider that they also are a part of the country.

The Hindutva-driven ideology is very severe on Muslims as it is bent upon restricting their existence to the bare minimum. Every vestige of Muslim presence is maliciously challenged with a view to push them to the wall. Their particular weapon is to deprive Muslims of their religious heritage in order to increase their feelings of alienation. Unfortunately, the state apparatus is aiding the extremist point of view and increasing the potential of hatred against the Muslims.

The latest in the series of pressure-exerting tactics is the litigation against a mosque known as Gyanvapi Mosque located in Varanasi. Five petitioners filed the plea stating that they believe that the centuries-old Gyanvapi mosque was built after a Muslim ruler tore down a medieval-era temple. The petitioners, contending that the site still contains Hindu idols and motifs, have asked to be allowed to worship the visible and invisible deities within the old temple complex. Due to recent discoveries, the historical site became yet another source of tension between Hindus and Muslims in India.

Application On Gyanvapi Mosque Issue

In an intriguing twist, an Indian court upheld the maintainability of a petition filed by Hindu women seeking permission for worship in one of the country’s highest-profile mosques. Varanasi city’s Gyanvapi mosque, located in the constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is one of the several mosques in northern Uttar Pradesh that Hindu hardliners believe — in common with some other religious sites — was built on top of demolished Hindu temples.

The Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee had subsequently filed an application against the maintainability of the plea by the Hindu litigants, arguing that it violated the “Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, which states that the religious character of a place of worship as it existed on 15 August, 1947 cannot be changed.

In its verdict the court announced that the law could not prevent the Hindu litigants from worshipping in the mosque’s grounds since they were offering prayers there even after 15 August, 1947. The judge also noted that the litigants had not demanded the conversion of the mosque into a temple. He also added that the plaintiffs are only demanding right to worship Maa Sringar Gauri and other visible and invisible deities which were being worshipped incessantly till 1993 and after 1993 till now once in a year.

A local court ordered authorities conduct a video-recorded survey of the mosque’s premises. The survey reportedly discovered a Shivalinga, a stone shaft that is a representation of the Hindu god Shiva, at the site. On 8 April, 2022, a civil judge appointed Ajay Kumar as an advocate commissioner to undertake the video-graphic survey of the mosque and submit it to the court.

Gyanvapi Mosque Issue & Muslim Side Protest

He could also ask for police assistance, if required. The Muslim side protested Kumar’s appointment, as his name had been suggested by the plaintiffs but the court refused and directed the district administration to break the locks if required and register a first information report against those who create a hindrance.

Even the report was submitted, at a hearing where the mosque representatives were not present, the court took note of the Hindu petitioners’ submission that a shivling — an idol of Hindu god Shiva — had allegedly been found in the water tank. Based on this, it ordered that a portion of the Gyanvapi mosque be sealed. It also said that only 20 Muslims would be allowed to pray in the mosque. The mosque side contested this claim, saying that the structure is actually a fountain.

The next day, the advocate commissioner was removed for leaking information to the press. The Muslim side had challenged the survey of the mosque before the Allahabad High Court but it rejected their plea saying that the court orders hardly decide anything and are ones of a very processual kind that would lead to a report of local inspection.

This claim of Hindus has been rejected by the mosque authorities. Following this development, the local judge banned large Muslim gatherings at the mosque, but India’s Supreme Court later overturned the ruling. The Muslim side contend that the mosque was built about 600 years ago and remained a place of worship for Muslims ever since.

The Muslim side is expected to appeal the case to a higher court. While disputes over religious sites have been recorded in India since its independence in 1947, they have been more frequent under the current nationalist BJP regime under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Weekender


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