Waquar Hasan | Clarion India
Hindutva groups have opened a Pandora box by rapidly and relentlessly laying wild claims over mosques and monuments one after another. Their target is the monuments built by medieval era Muslim rulers which they claim have been built after demolishing temples.
The sudden upsurge in the Hindutva campaign to make all things Muslim disputed property has taken many people including Muslims by surprise. Fringe outfits, some of them unheard of in the past, have sprung up out of the blue to carry forward their nefarious campaign with a sinister agenda.
What’s intriguing is that the fringe is acting in connivance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is in power at the Centre and in some of the states of the Union of India. The studied silence of the BJP bigwigs, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi if anything, is indicative of the fact that the party firmly stands by the fringe even though as a ruling dispensation it’s bound by the law of the land (Places Of Worship Act 1992). If not for the BJP, the Hindutva groups would not have gone berserk.
While the current campaign to fix the historical wrongs has got its sustenance from the pliable lower judiciary ready to admit frivolous petitions, the courts owe it to the Supreme Court for its 2019 judgment in Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi case. The order to build Ram temple at the land where the Babri masjid once stood was official recognition of a communal movement of fringe outfits like Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Bajrang Dal etc. added and abetted by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that resulted in the demolition of the Babri mosque. If the judiciary had used discretion at that time, similar campaigns being run for many historical monuments would not have cropped up.
Thanks to a Varanasi court’s indiscretion, Hindu groups succeeded in overturning the status of historic Gyanvapi mosque into a dispute property even as a law, Places of Worship Act 1991, is there to prohibit conversion of any place of worship and to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August, 1947, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. How then the court in Varanasi could allow the survey of Gyanvapi mosque and thereafter accept the baseless claim of Hindu party that a Shivling was found in the wuzukhana of the mosque.
The court passed the controversial order without hearing the other contending party, in this case the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, which is a mandatory judicial practice. The Masjid committee vehemently rejected the claim dismissing the purported Shivling as a fountain. But the Supreme Court also chose to give credence to Hindu claim by ordering sealing of the spot (wazukhana) where the object was discovered. Rather than upholding justice, the apex court seems to have tried to strike balance between the two parties.
Buoyed by the success of their agenda on Gyanvapi mosque, the Hindu right has started eyeing other mosques and historical monuments. On May 19, a court in Mathura allowed a suit demanding removal of the Shahi Eidgah mosque adjacent to Krishna Janmbhoomi temple. The plaintiffs claimed that the mosque has been built on the land of a temple. Built by Aurangzeb, the mosque was existed for several centuries, but now the Hindutva supporters are claiming that it was built on the land of the temple. Where were they all these years?
Not just the mosques, Hindutva groups are targeting national monuments like Taj Mahal and Qutab Minar. For quite some time now, Hindutva supporters have been claiming that Taj Mahal is a Shiva temple named Tejo Mahalaya. Such frivolous claims were, as they deserved, just laughed away. Nobody in his wildest dream could anticipate a BJP leader could even go on to file a petition in the Allahabad High Court to form a fact-finding team to look into the temple claim. Although the court has rejected the petition, the Hindutva supporters are reiterating their claims at every platform with a view to mobilise public opinion in favour of the false claims.
The Hindutva organisations’ demonstration and prayers inside the Qutab Minar complex with the claim that the medieval era tower is, in fact, ‘Vishnu Sthumb’ is part of this sinister design of the Hindutva lobby. A petition has been filed in a Delhi court seeking restorations of the temples purported to have been destroyed by Muslim rulers near the Qutab Minar complex. While the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) opposed the plea, the Saket court hearing the plea is yet to pass a judgment on the claim. It, however, observed that the deity had survived for 800 years without worship and would continue to do so. The court’s observation should be treated as a guideline to set all the disputes arising from such dubious claims at rest once and for all.
Earlier, a civil court had dismissed a petition for the restoration of the temples near the Qutub Minar. The court had observed, “Cognisant as we are of our history and of the need for the nation to confront it, Independence was a watershed moment to heal the wounds of the past. Historical wrongs cannot be remedied by the people taking the law in their own hands…”
Apart from these historical monuments, there are claims about the Bhojshala monument of Dhar in which namaz is also offered along with pooja as per ASI order. But now, a Hindutva group has filed a petition in the court demanding exclusive right on the monument.
A Hindutva group claimed that the Jama Masjid of Bhopal was built on a Shiva temple. They even submitted a memorandum to Madhay Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra in this regard with a demand for a detailed report on archeological survey of the historical mosque.
In Mangalore, Karnataka, the VHP has claimed that the Jama Masjid in Malali village belongs to Vasu Vadhiraj Matt and Lord Shiva and a structure found under the mosque a “temple”. They even tried to perform pooja at the mosque.
In the Mandya district of the state, a Hindutva group demanded permission to perform pooja at a mosque in Srirangapatna claiming that the mosque was built over the ruins of a Hanuman temple. The mosque was built by Tipu Sultan in 1782. Srirangapatna, a heritage site being maintained by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) also runs a madrassa.
The truth behind these wild claims can never be ascertained since the claims are not based on any credible evidence. There is a history of such claims that shows these turn out to be false. Take the example of the Babri case, a bloody and hateful campaign was carried out against Muslims along with the claim that the mosque was built over the ruins of a Ram temple. But in the end, they failed to prove that the mosque was built after demolishing any mosque. They even failed to prove that Lord Ram was born in Ayodhya.
However, the Supreme Court gave the land for a temple on the basis of faith in a controversial judgment. Similarly, in the case of Gyanvapi mosque, the Hindu party declared it a temple on the flimsy ground that a fountain has been found inside it. Though the court has accepted their claim without hearing the version of the other side, it can’t stand a judicial scrutiny.
Even if for a moment it is hypothetically accepted that these historical monuments and mosques were built after demolishing temples and now these historical wrongs should be corrected, they will have to first prove the claim with credible evidence without relying on myths and propaganda that some historical wrong was committed.
The most important question is why should only historical wrongs allegedly committed against temples need to be corrected? Why not every historical wrong should be fixed. What about the Buddhist shrines (maths and viharas) that have been forcibly captured and converted into Hindu temples? Shouldn’t they be restored to their original owners?
According to prominent historian, DN Jha, thousands of Buddhist sites and temples were demolished by Hindu rulers. With the reference from a Chinese Buddhist pilgrim and traveller Hsüan Tsang, who visited India between the years 631 and 645, Jha noted that in just the post-Gupta centuries, “the sixth-century Huna ruler Mihirakula, a devotee of Shiva, destroyed 1,600 Buddhist stupas and monasteries and killed thousands of Buddhist monks and laity. He further tells us that 1,000 sangharamas in Gandhara were ‘deserted’/and in ‘ruins,’ and describes 1,400 sangharamas in Uddiyana as ‘generally waste and desolate’.”
Should not these historical wrongs be corrected?
Another serious question being asked in this context is how can a court, which came into existence after 1947, decide about the wrongs alleged to have been committed in the past centuries? The fact of the matter is that these alleged historical wrongs are being deliberately publicised by the Hindutva groups with a single-point agenda to push their anti-Muslim hate campaign to reap a rich electoral harvest.