Will Varanasi’s Gyanvapi Mosque go the Babri Masjid way?

Gyanvapi mosque is located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India constructed by Muslim Emperor Aurangazeb in 1669, upon the demolition of the old Shiva temple. The mosque was named Alamgiri after the name of Aurangzeb, but later renamed Gyan Vapi, which means the Well of knowledge.

What is the Gyanvapi Mosque dispute?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gyanvapi_Mosque
The file image of Gyanvapi Mosque.

Five Hindu devotees filed a petition to have the right to offer prayer in Gyanvapi in August 2021. In a petition, they sought permission to pray and kneel before the Hindu idols on the outer walls of the Gyanvapi mosque.

While hearing the petition, the Varanasi court ordered a videography survey. During the videography, Shivling was seen near an ablution pond, also known as “Wazookhana” in Islam. Petitioners sought the carbon dating of Shivling to prove that it is a part of the temple. Islamic committee opposed the petition by saying it is a fountain, not Shivling.

The brief timeline of Gyanvapi Mosque is as follows:

April 8: Civil judge ordered a Video survey of the disputed place.

April 21: The mosque committee opposed the civil judge’s order and challenged it in Allahabad High Court. The court dismissed the plea, and the survey started on May 6.

May 17: The supreme court ordered the Muslims to offer Namaz in the mosque’s building and protection to the ‘Shivling.’

May 20: The Supreme court sensed the issue’s sensitivity and transferred the case to Varanasi District Court. SC’s order (May 17) told to follow until the court decision on this case. 

Sep 12: Varanasi district court ruled in favor of the Hindu committee and stated that the Mosque committee’s challenge is not valid, because Hindu petitioners are only seeking the pray right near the Mosque wall and that doesn’t put the mosque’s religious character in danger.

The current dispute is not the first one involving Gyanvapi Mosque. In 1991, a group of Hindu priests filed a petition to enter the Mosque building and pray. In the petition, they argued that the mosque was built atop The Kashi Vishwanath temple. But the plea was dismissed in 1998.

The Socio-political context in Gyanvapi Mosque case

The history of the Gyanvapi case is very complex. It all started in the 1980s when the Ayodhya temple slogans were raised and along with it, Mathura, and Kashi Mosque temple dispute slogans were also raised.

The Ram mandir movement took pace with the slogans to right the wrongs of history.

The carbon dating twist in the case

The Hindu side raised its voice in favor of the carbon dating of Shivling. They argued that the carbon dating test would clear the air on the case.

A petition was filed for the test. 

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) opposed the carbon dating method and said that the Carbon dating test would tell the age of fossil fuels, not Shivling. They argued that the test would not work on Shivling as it doesn’t have traces of fossil fuels. Further, it would damage the disputed object. Hindu petitioners are divided on carbon dating. one of the five petitioners in the case doesn’t want the alleged test on a Hindu deity. She says, ” It will damage the sacred Shivling.”

The District Court dismissed the plea by saying that the test would violate SC’s orders and compromise the structure’s safety. But the Hindu committee has challenged the District court’s verdict in the High court, and the date for the hearing on the plea is fixed on January 18, 2023.

Latest Political Controversy in the Gyanvapi Mosque case

Sangeet Som, the firebrand leader of BJP, while addressing the rally in Meerut, stoked an ugly controversy by saying it was Babri Masjid in 1992, Gyanvapi mosque will be demolished in 2022. He further said that they would demolish all the mosques in India that are built atop the temples by Mughal emperors in the past.

BJP leader Sangeet Som.

Giving reference to the Babri Mosque of 1992, Som stated that not even a single brick was found after the 1992 Ram mandir movement. The same will happen again.

Sangeet Som contested the recently concluded UP assembly elections from the Sardhana seat but lost to the Samajwadi candidate.

Takeaways

File image of Babri Masjid in 1992.

While the case is sub-judiced in the court, It is hard to tell whether the Gyanvapi’s case will go the Babri Masjid’s way. 

But if it does so, then it will open a pandora’s box in religious conflict in India. The Hindu and Muslim communities will be pitted against each other, and communal violence is very much possible. Religious beliefs of the Muslim community in India will vanquish. Gyanvapi Mosque’s case should be left alone for the court’s judgment.

At the end of the day, religious places are there for peace and to maintain brotherhood in society. These should not be the reason for communal violence.

Thanks for reading it with an open mind!

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