Hindutva Groups Targeting 3,000 Mosques: The Guardian Report

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The report cited Hindutva leaders, historians and petitioners, who filed cases against the mosques, to show their plans and how they have invented narratives with regard to the mosque

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI – Hindutva groups have embarked on to convert around three thousand mosques into Hindu religious places and rewrite history by inventing new narratives, said a report published by The Guardian. The report cited Hindutva leaders, historians and petitioners, who filed cases against the mosques, to show their plans and how they have invented narratives with regard to the mosque.

“We have a list of about 3,000 that we have decided to reclaim legally,” said Sanjay Hariyana, a state spokesperson for Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM). A Hindu farmer backed by the ABHM has filed a case claiming that Badaun’s Shamsi Jama Masjid was a temple or it was converted into a temple. Their petition claims that the mosque is an “illegal structure” which was built on a demolished temple.

Different claims about the mosque by the two lawyers who are representing the Hindu man shows that the facts with regard to the 800-year-old mosque have been made up.

The mosque was built by Shamsuddin Iltutmish in 1223 in which Muslims have been offering prayers since then undisturbed.

“Except the two bickering lawyers can’t quite agree on the historical facts, BP Singh initially claimed that the original Hindu temple was destroyed by a Muslim tyrant king – but then VP Singh contradicts him,” noted the report about the claims of both lawyers who are representing the Hindu man in the court.

“Not destroyed, altered. Most of the original Hindu temple is still there,” said another lawyer VP Singh.

The lawyers claim as evidence a lotus flower painted on the inside of the mosque dome. But The Guardian reporter found that there was no such Hindu motif, instead it was the calligraphy of a Qur’anic verse inside the mosque. VP Singh also claimed that there was a “hidden locked room filled with Hindu idols” in the mosque he had seen in the 1970s as a child. However, The Guardian found that the room in question was a store cupboard, filled with cleaning materials and prayer mats.

“The pair also could not settle on exactly when Shamsi Jama Masjid, which they refuse to call a mosque, began to be used by Muslims for prayer five times a day as it is today. After BP Singh stated that Muslims were praying there up till the 1800s, VP Singh leaned over to mutter quietly to his associate: “No no don’t say that, don’t say that,” said the report.

VP Singh then proclaimed: “Actually this wasn’t a mosque, it was never used for namaz [Muslim prayer] until recently when the Muslims forcibly occupied it and tried to convert it into a mosque.”

Anwer Alam, legal counsel for the mosque committee, rubbished all these allegations saying that “the suit has no legal grounds”.

Quoting a historian, the report also pointed out the claims made by the Bharatiya Janata Party leaders about the temples being destroyed by the Mughals.

“But Richard Eaton, a professor of Indian history at the University of Arizona, said there was no historical evidence for this, with Mughals thought to have torn down only about two dozen temples. ‘Claims of many thousands of such instances are outlandish, irresponsible and without foundation,’ he said,” the report said.

Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi, a professor of Mughal history at Aligarh Muslim University, also rejected the history propounded by the BJP describing it as “fantasy, nothing more than fiction” invented to serve their political agenda. “The history of India is being painted as a black and white narrative of Hindus versus Muslims,” said Rezavi. “But it was never so.”

The report also shed light on the case of Shahi Eidgah mosque being claimed by Hindu women backed by Hindutva groups in Mathura. In the case of Shahi Eidgah mosque, a fountain was already seized claiming that it is Shivling. Hidtuva group called it “Shiva temple”.

Muslims fear that the mosque would be given to Hindus by the court.

“So far, we haven’t seen any part of this trial to be fair. This is a case which is being filed by Hindus and decided by Hindus, everybody is on their side: investigators, judiciary, government. I tried my best to appoint a Hindu lawyer but no Hindu lawyer would fight for us,” Syed Mohammed Yaseen, 75, who has been the caretaker of Gyanvapi mosque for more than 30 years.

He called the claims made by Hindutva groups about the mosque “untrue” and “unbelievable”.

Abdul Batin Nomani, the grand mufti of Varanasi, who oversees all mosques in the city, was equally pessimistic. “We know this mosque is just the beginning,” he said, adding, “But if they hand it to the Hindus, there will be bloodshed.”

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