Follow 1991 Act or risk another Babri Masjid-type situation, says Owaisi

Hyderabad, May 22 (IANS) Ever since a court in Varanasi ordered a videography survey of the Gyanvapi mosque, AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi has been expressing the apprehension that another Babri Masjid will happen.

The MP from Hyderabad faulted the order of the lower court saying it violates The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 and was passed without hearing the Muslim side.

With the issue of Shahi Idgah Masjid at Mathura and disputes at other places being raised during the last few days, he believes that only strict adherence to the 1991 Act will prevent fresh controversies.

The Act prohibits the change in the religious character of a place of worship. According to the Act, the religious character of a place of worship existing on August 15, 1947 shall continue to be the same as it existed on that day.

The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief is concerned over the violation of the 1991 Act, which was described by the Supreme Court as part of the basic character of the Constitution of India, and hopes that the courts will walk the talk on the Act.

He told IANS that the lower court’s order amounts to an attempt to change the nature and character of a place of worship which goes against the 1991 Act.

“There can’t be more unfair and biased judgment than this. It goes against the principles of natural justice,” said Owaisi, the most vocal Muslim leader on various issues.

He was expecting that the Supreme Court would order a complete stay on the order of the lower court. However, the apex court on May 20 transferred the case pending before the civil judge, senior division, to the court of the Varanasi district judge.

“I was expecting the Supreme Court to categorically state that the 1991 Act is made so that future controversies don’t arise. I was disappointed on this point. I was expecting that the Supreme Court will nip this in the bud because every day new issues are being raised. We hope that the Varanasi district magistrate will hear the case on priority and do justice,” said the MP.

While transferring the case, the Supreme Court stated that its interim order of May 17 for the protection of the area where a ‘Shivling’ was purportedly found and free access to Muslims to offer namaz will continue.

Owaisi argues that the lower court had passed the order to seal a part of the mosque without hearing the other party and without the survey commissioner’s report being submitted in the court.

“It was blatantly unfair. Where in the world will you have this kind of judgment? It was against the 1991 Act and the Supreme Court judgment which had upheld the Act. The Allahabad High Court had also given a stay when a similar petition was moved in 1998.”

The MP wondered how a fountain which has been there in ‘wazu khana’ in the mosque for 400 years can be termed the religious structure of another faith.

“If every fountain is seen like this, no fountain will be spared. Where will this take us to? We may even have to shut down the Taj Mahal,” he said.

“We are very apprehensive that another Babri Masjid will happen. Look at the chronology of the Babri Masjid issue. It started with chabutra, the idols were surreptitiously placed inside the mosque, then there was unlocking of gates, demolition of Babri Masjid, a makeshift temple was erected, permission was given to pray in the makeshift temple and ultimately the Muslim side lost the title suit in the Supreme Court. Not a single person was convicted in the criminal case (relating to demolition of Babri Masjid).

“I had opposed the Supreme Court judgment in the Babri Masjid case. I had called it the victory of faith over facts and voiced apprehension that it will open a can of worms as this will lead to new problems in Gyanvapi, Mathura Idgah, Tele Wali Masjid Lucknow and Haji Ali dargah in Mumbai. Unfortunately, I have been proved right,” Owaisi said.

Owaisi added that during the hearing of the Babri Masjid case, many had advised Muslims to show magnanimity by giving up their claim as there will be a closure with this.

“See what is happening now. They are saying the same thing again. There will never be a closure as the Sangh Parivar has on its agenda 50,000 mosques which they say were not mosques,” he said.

Owaisi pointed out that even as the Gyanvapi issue was being discussed, the district court in Mathura allowed a plea on ownership of the land in which the Shahi Idgah Mosque is built. He wondered how the other party could go back on the agreement reached more than 50 years ago.

He was referring to the 1968 compromise agreement between Shri Krishna Janmasthan Seva Sansthan, the temple management authority, and the Trust Masjid Idgah.

Owaisi sees Sangh Parivar behind the petitioners in Gyanvapi and other cases as they are all on the agenda of the RSS and the BJP.

“Do the petitioners not belong to Sangh Parivar? Let them say they have nothing to do with the petitioners. Leaders of RSS have gone on record about their agenda. After the judgment in the Babri Masjid case, I had said issues like Kashi, Mathura and other places will be raised. The BJP wants to take the country back to the black period of 1980-1990. It has declared a war against Muslims and created a storm of hatred. They want to create more problems,” Owaisi said.

The AIMIM chief also slammed the Congress, Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for their silence on the issue.

“They were never concerned about Muslims. They only want votes of Muslims. They have no concern for the development of Muslims, their socio-economic problem, their security and mosques. I have been telling this to Muslims, especially to those in the Hindi belt.

These parties have become deaf and dumb. They don’t utter a word as they fear that if they say something, they will not get votes of the majority community. They want to create a sense of fear and get votes of Muslims but Muslim voters have become politically aware,” Owaisi said.

The AIMIM chief added that he was called names by the so-called secular parties, but the recent developments have exposed them.

“They made allegations, but I am the lone voice for mosques and for the supremacy of the Constitution. Muslims, who believed they would come and speak for them, have seen their true colours now,” he concluded.

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