New Delhi: A day after a Varanasi court Thursday ordered an archaeological survey of the Kashi Vishwanath temple and the Gyanvapi mosque premises to resolve a long-standing dispute involving the two shrines, the BJP welcomed the move pointing out it has faith in the judicial process while opposition parties responded in a guarded manner. Prominent Muslim leaders though, said they would file an appeal in high court.
“This is a court’s order. Administration has to abide by the court order. The mosque was built by Aurangzeb after demolishing Kashi Vishwanath Mandir. He used to convert Hindus in masses. We have full faith in the judiciary,” said BJP’s national spokesperson, R.P. Singh.
“As a party, we have full commitment to the constitutionally mandated institutions. Indian judiciary, as one of those institutions, in the course of the last seven decades has displayed impeccable objectivity and independence in adjudication of matters. We have faith in the judicial process,” said Guru Prakash, BJP spokesperson.
A number of Congress spokespersons, however, refused to speak on the matter. Congress general secretary and incharge, communications, Randeep Singh Surjewala said: “I haven’t really looked at the order. Civil court orders are not uploaded. I have only read the news reports. I will wait to read the court order, before making a comment on it”.
Senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, on Twitter, put out a guarded statement without getting into the merit of the case on the Gyanvapi mosque.
“1991 places of worship act specifically includes #Kashi & #mathura places of worship 2bar inquiry into such places, its astonishing how civil judge cld pass the interim direction for #ASI inquiry, unless #1991act repealed or struck down!!eye 4eye wl make globe blind!! (sic)” he posted Friday.
1991 places of worship act specifically includes #Kashi & #mathura places of worship 2bar inquiry into such places, its astonishing how civil judge cld pass the interim direction for #ASI inquiry, unless #1991act repealed or struck down!!eye 4eye wl make globe blind!!
— Abhishek Singhvi (@DrAMSinghvi) April 9, 2021
Congress MP and spokesperson Manish Tewari also took to Twitter and questioned the verdict and asked whether a senior civil judge can give such a direction.
“In addition to being barred by Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991 as upheld by Const.Bench of SC can a Senior Civil Judge even give such a direction? Continues Revisionism started when Secularism stopped meaning separation of Church & State (sic).”
In addition to being barred by Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991 as upheld by Const.Bench of SC can a Senior Civil Judge even give such a direction?
Continues Revisionism started when Secularism stopped meaning separation of Church & State https://t.co/zW4MAG46VJ
— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) April 9, 2021
AIMIM question legality
The Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) also refused to comment on the matter.
SP legislator and spokesperson Udaiveer Singh only termed the issue a ‘sensitive matter’ when ThePrint reached him via phone call. Senior BSP leader Sudhindra Bhadoria said, “We have not discussed anything on it in the party forum and so I won’t be able to comment on it.”
Trinamool Congress (TMC) didn’t issue a statement either but when asked to comment, Rajya Sabha MP Sukhendu Sekhar told ThePrint: “It’s a sub-judice matter. I can’t comment on this.”
AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi, however, questioned the legality of the order.
“The legality of this order is doubtful. In Babri judgement SC said ‘A finding of title cannot be based in law on the archaeological findings which have been arrived at by ASI…’ ASI has acted as a midwife to all kinds of Hindutva lies, no one expects objectivity from it (sic),” he tweeted.
The legality of this order is doubtful. In Babri judgement SC said “A finding of title cannot be based in law on the archaeological findings which have been arrived at by ASI…" ASI has acted as a midwife to all kinds of Hindutva lies, no one expects objectivity from it 1/n https://t.co/oEv7RxsD7r
— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) April 8, 2021
BJP will keep mandir-mosque issue burning, say Muslim leaders
The Varanasi court order hasn’t gone down well with prominent Muslim leaders either. Both the UP Sunni Waqf Board as well as the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind are planning to appeal the order. “The order of the Civil Judge, Varanasi ordering a survey by the Archaeological Survey of India will be challenged before the Hon’ble High Court,” said the UP Sunni Waqf Board in a statement.
Speaking to ThePrint, UP Sunni Waqf Board chairman Zufar Ahmad Faruqi said, “Even in the Ayodhya judgment, the ASI excavation was ultimately of no use. If they keep this on, where all will they go and how far will they keep digging? Will they dig up the whole country?”
The Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind too said they will appeal the order in court. “We don’t know why the lower court has given such an order. But we will take this to a higher court and we are hopeful that we will succeed,” said Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind president Maulana Arshad Madni to ThePrint.
“These are just results of the seeds of hatred that have been sown since partition. But we will fight it out in court and not on the streets as we want peace and the Constitution gives [us the] right to appeal,” he added.
Other Muslim leaders have said the lower court order reflects the political ambitions of the BJP. “From the day the Ayodhya order was given, we knew that this was not the end but just the beginning. They will keep this mandir-mosque issue burning because it ensures their political future. Neither Babri masjid nor the Kashi Vishwanath temple is a religious issue for the BJP. They are political issues for which they will gain political benefits as they prepare for 2024 elections,” said Zafryab Jilani, advocate and secretary, All India Personal Law Board, to ThePrint.
(Edited by Manasa Mohan)