ShivBhakts Vs Rahim Abids || Rashtra Bhakti Anyone?

LG Sinha’s day at Mubarak Mandi
ShivBhakts Vs Rahim Abids || Rashtra Bhakti Anyone?

Why is it that religion always becomes the political touchstone at election time? Be it Hindus or Muslims netagan who adopt a ‘holier than thou attitude’ to protect their power bases. As using the intoxicating potent of temple-masjid symbolism enables them to vet voters’ appetite depending on which side of the template one is on. Both have just one faith — power. Nothing stands testimony to this better than the on-going ‘jihad’ unleashed over Varanasi’s Gyanvapi Masjid-Kashi Vishwanath Temple.

The case involves a dispute over the religious significance and ownership of the Gyanvapi mosque built by Aurangzeb in 1669 after demolishing the ancient Vishweshwar Mandir. The temple’s plinth was left untouched and continued to serve as the mosque’s courtyard. In 1936, three Muslims moved Varanasi’s District Court demanding the entire Gyanvapi complex be declared the mosque’s part. The Court granted right to offer namaz alongside prayers anywhere in the complex.

In 1991 Varanasi priests filed a petition in court requesting permission to worship within the mosque complex claiming it was originally part of the Kashi Vishwanath temple demolished by Aurangzeb, removal of Muslims from therein and demanded land be returned to them bypassing the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991(PoW).

In 1998, the court ruled the suit was barred by PoW Act citing Section 3 which prohibits converting a place of worship of a different religious denomination or a different class of the same religious denomination. Section 4(2) states all litigations, appeals or other proceedings relating to changing the nature of the place of worship (which were pending till August 15, 1947) shall cease after the enactment of this Act and no fresh action can be taken on such cases.

The petitioners contended that the 1991 Act did not apply to the masjid as the mandir was partly demolished to construct the masjid. Also, as change in nature of worship place had occurred after the cut-off date of August 15, 1947 legal action could be initiated. The Ayodhya (Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid) dispute was exempted from the Act.

Based on this a revision petition was moved before the district court which allowed it and asked the civil court to adjudicate the dispute, afresh. The Anjuman Intezamiya Masjid Committee (AIM) successfully challenged this in Allahabad High Court which stayed proceedings.

The court case remained pending for 22 years before the 1991 advocate re-filed another plea in 2019 requesting Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) survey the mosque-complex on the same grounds:  temple existed before being demolished by Aurangzeb, which was proved by the continuous presence of Lingam in the pond used for “wasoo” (purification) before namaz and, questioning why Hindus were deprived of their religious right to offer water to Lingam.

This was ceded by the city-court on 8 April 2021. Alongside, a five-member committee comprising archaeology experts with two members from the “minority community” was constituted to determine whether any temple existed at the site, prior to the mosque. AIM challenged it in the Allahabad High Court which indefinitely stayed the survey.

On 18 August 2021 five women filed a petition demanding right to worship in Shringar Gauri temple daily without any restrictions along-with other “visible and invisible deities within the old temple complex”. Presently, devotees are allowed to worship only on the fourth day of Chaitra Navratra.

In April 2022 Varanasi District Court allowed videography. AIM moved Supreme Court stating it went against PoW Act which was rejected. In July the Allahabad’s high court upheld Varanasi Court order ASI survey to determine if the mosque was built upon a temple. Last week Supreme Court refused to stop ASI continuing their “scientific investigation of the mosque’s complex”.

Questionably, is the genesis of the dispute to rectify history? Ensure BJP’s political future of Hindu consolidation? “Ayodhya to bas jhaanki hai, Kashi-Mathura baaki hai?” Is it just about Shringar Gauri? What does that have to do with the mosque? Or is it to drive a wedge between Hindus and Muslims?

To buttress its claim, a senior BJP leader underscored Kashi Vishwanath Temple as Lord Shiva’s most significant shrine and prominent among 12 ‘Jyotirlingas’ mentioned in Puranas. It is part of our national heritage and symbol of nationalism which is at the core of Indian consciousness.  We have given Kashi a political thrust for installing Hindu nationalism as India’s dominant political credo.

Added another diehard Saffronite, “The idea of communal harmony and unity flies in the face of historical evidence even as Muslims use historic religious sites as reference points to articulate their socio-political goals and build their modern identities with different visions of a modern State.”

Musim clerics aver the Hindutva Sangh has found its golden goose: Reclaiming temples by breaking mosques to get the Hindu majority to keep bringing them back to power on an emotive issue built on the foundation of aastha and badla from Muslim invaders, who are history. The method is simple: instill a feeling of victimisation within Hindus that they had been dealt unfairly by the Muslim minority, first by Mughals and now by Congress and Opposition Parties which believed in Muslim appeasement.

Adding, “For the BJP it is a political issue for which they will gain benefits in 2024 elections, more so, as it Prime Minister Modi’s constituency. The Saffron Sangh wants to dip into their interest earnings from Ayodhya and make fresh investments — basically go on an expansion drive, inject fresh fuel in religiosity via Kashi and Mathura which are part of a grand effort to undermine India’s Islamic history. The motive is clear. Monuments that remind the presence of Muslims ruling India must be destroyed.”

Already, there are four instances beside Varanasi where the origin of various structures are being challenged before courts despite the PoW law: Mathura, Agra, Dhar in Madhya Pradesh and New Delhi.

Basically, it all boils down to a desire for political power. The repeated finger pointing between Hindus-Muslims reveal for power both will adopt diabolical machinations to create a secular-communal divide. There is no desire to uphold equal respect for various faiths. Instead unashamedly use religion to increase their so-called popularity with voters.

In this milieu wrought with friction our leaders need to understand that by playing Hindus- Muslims against each other they are only serving their vested interests. At the end of the day, when our polity does a cost-benefit analysis, they need to answer a simple question: Is there vote-bank politics really worth the price the country is paying? Who will bear the cross and answer to Gods?

Also, in a sense, the dispute with its political undertones, underscores the nemesis of depending wholly and pathetically on the judicial process to tackle an issue of faith. Perhaps a way forward is to learn from the Ayodhya verdict. The judgment went a long way in becoming a catalytic agent to integrate India and make it a cohesive whole.

It strengthened people’s confidence, especially minorities, on the judiciary’s independence   and rule of law. People showed inherent maturity. There were no untoward incidents, fiery and inciting speeches, celebration or despondency.

Clearly, as the Gyanvapi Mosque-Kashi temple is related to faith posturing of assertion is not the best formula for amity. In a pluralist society, with multiplicity of religions, Hindu-Muslim religious leaders need to sit together and work on a solution. For starters why don’t ShivBhakts and Rahim Abids evoke the spirit of Rashtra Bhakti. What gives? —– INFA



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ShivBhakts Vs Rahim Abids || Rashtra Bhakti Anyone?