NEW DELHI – Survey of the Gyanvapi mosque ordered by a local court in Varanasi was greeted by protests from local people even as AIMMIM (All India Muslim Majlise Ittehadul Muslimeen) chief Asaduddin Owaisi mounted criticism on the surprise move.
On Friday, when a team led by Ajai Kumar came to conduct videography and inspection of the shrine, worshippers started raising slogans in protest. Before the survey could start, a large number of worshippers offered namaz (prayer) at the mosque.
In response to the protests from Muslims, some Hindu groups gathered there raising religious counter slogans. Later, the police came into action and removed the protesters.
On 26 April, a court in Varanasi had ordered the survey after hearing a petition filed by five women who sought daily prayers and worship rights at the Maa Shringar Gauri Sthal inside the Gyanvapi mosque complex. The Gyanvapi complex is adjacent to Kashi Vishwanath temple.
However, the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, which manages the Gyanvapi mosque, raised objections to the survey.
“We had objected to them entering the mosque [for the inspection]. We have no objection to the videography of the Shringar Gauri and other deities. Our main objection is to the videography inside the mosque,” Sayid Yasin, joint secretary of the Anjuma Intejamia Masajid, was quoted by The Hindu as saying.
Meanwhile, Hyderabad MP Owaisi called the survey an “open violation of 1991 Places of Worship Act”.
“This order to survey Kashi’s Gyanvapi Masjid* is open violation of 1991 Places of Worship Act, which prohibits conversion of religious places. SC in Ayodhya judgment had said the Act protects “secular features of Indian polity which is 1 of basic features of Constitution,” tweeted Owaisi.
He further criticised the court for defying Supreme Court order.
“Unfortunate that the Court* is blatantly defying the SC. By this order, the Court is opening the path for the bloodshed of Rath Yatra and anti-Muslim violence of 1980s-1990s,” he said.
Unfortunate that the Court* is blatantly defying the SC. By this order, the Court is opening the path for the bloodshed of Rath Yatra and anti-Muslim violence of 1980s-1990s. 2/2
— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) May 7, 2022
In a statement given to media, Owaisi attacked Uttar Pradesh government for the survey to be conducted. “Govt of India & UP Govt should’ve told Court that Parliament passed Places of Worship (Spl Provisions) Act, 1991; it stated that no religious place, as it existed on 15th Aug 1947, will be disturbed. They should’ve told Court,” he said.
He pointed out that the Bharatiya Janata Party is allowing this to happen because it wants to do politics of hatred on this.
“Modi Govt knows that when Babri Masjid Civil Title judgment came, it linked the 1991 Act to basic structure of constitution. It was constitutional duty of govt to tell the court that what they’re doing is wrong. But since they do politics of hatred, they stayed silent,” he said.
Owaisi has drawn a comparison between the Gyanvapi Mosque and senior BJP leader Lal Krishna Adavani’s rath yathra for Ram temple.
‘BJP should say if they accept Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991. It is BJP and Sangh that is focusing on this matter. They are trying to rekindle the era of hatred as the one in the 90s,” Owaisi asserted.