The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on Friday criticised a Varanasi court’s order to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to survey the Gyanvapi mosque site, which stands next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple. The Board claimed the order was “like playing with the law, and is unacceptable”, and added that it was “keeping an eye on the proceedings”.
The civil court on Thursday directed the ASI Director-General to get done a “comprehensive archaeological physical survey” of the site, and added that the ASI should find out if the “religious structure standing at present at the disputed site is a superimposition, alteration or addition or there is a structural overlapping of any kind, with or over, any religious structure”.
In a statement, the Board said “Muslims should not be worried about the issue of the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi”.
“Under the provisions of the Places of Worship Act, 1991, the nature of all places of worship shall be maintained as it was on August 15, 1947. After the law was passed, some communal people filed a petition about the Gyanvapi mosque, claiming that the mosque is situated on a piece of land where there was a temple and that there should be an investigation into it. It is clear that after this law came into force, this application was not valid. The mosque committee and the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board opposed the application and the application was rejected. But again, this issue reached the Civil Court, and based on the mosque committee’s submissions in court, the High Court stayed the application. But it is sad that despite this, a judge has ordered a survey,” read the statement issued by the Board’s working general secretary Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani.
The AIMPLB said the mosque committee and the Sunni Waqf Board would challenge the order in the Allahabad High Court. It added, “We request Muslims to not be disheartened about this. The Sunni Waqf Board and mosque committee are working on the matter, and the AIMPLB and its legal committee will keep an eye on the proceedings and is also cooperating in this. With God’s grace, communal people’s conspiracy will fail.”
Meanwhile, prominent Sunni cleric and AIMPLB member Maulana Khalid Rashid Farangi Mahli criticised the court order and wondered why the matter was being raised now.
“The issue of Gyanvapi mosque and Kashi Vishwanath temple being raised now is very sad. The temple and the mosque are adjoining and Hindus and Muslims worship there… And this shows the Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb of our country. I feel the two structures together should be promoted as a mark of communal harmony and should not be raised as a controversy. After the Ayodhya verdict, there is no space for such issues. The honourable Supreme Court has already given its judgment in the Religious Places of Worship Act matter. Now, it is not a good practice to raise such temple and mosque issues,” he added.