Gyanvapi Masjid issue ‘Government must uphold Places  of Worship Act in Letter and Spirit’

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Gyanvapi Masjid issue ‘Government must uphold Places of Worship Act in Letter and Spirit’

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New Delhi: In the wake of a flurry of petitions filed in numerous courts against old mosques, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) urged the government to uphold the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, in letter and spirit. In a statement to the media, the JIH Vice-President, Malik Mohtasim Khan, said, “We are extremely concerned about the unfolding of events in the case of the Gyanvapi Masjid in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. We fear that there may be a repetition of what happened to Babri Masjid in 1992. The decision by the Allahabad High Court to reject the challenge brought by the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee against the Varanasi District Judge’s order from July 21, may lead to unforeseen circumstances leading to damage to the Masjid premises and some of its internal structures. The Advocate General representing the State of Uttar Pradesh’s defense of the Varanasi Court’s order that it was only meant to ascertain the truth and should not create any dispute between the plaintiff and the defendant cannot be taken seriously. His assurance that there would not be any law and order issues regardless of the court’s directions has to be taken with a pinch of salt given the track record and political positioning of the Uttar Pradesh government regarding issues concerning the welfare of its Muslim population. Jamaat-e-Islami Hind is of the considered view that courts should not entertain petitions about demands for a survey of Gyanvapi and other mosques when there is a clear-cut law in the statute, viz., the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, which prohibits altering the character of religious places. JIH demands that the Union Home Ministry urgently come out with a statement and uphold the Places of Worship Act 1991, which states that a mosque, temple, church, or any place of public worship in existence on August 15, 1947, will retain the same religious character that it had on that day, irrespective of its history, and cannot be changed by the courts or the government.