Indian court limits Muslim gatherings at mosque after Hindu relics found, says lawyer

Published May 16, 2022
In this file photo, a worker stands on a temple rooftop adjacent to the Gyanvapi Mosque in the northern city of Varanasi, India. — Reuters/File
In this file photo, a worker stands on a temple rooftop adjacent to the Gyanvapi Mosque in the northern city of Varanasi, India. — Reuters/File

A court on Monday banned large Muslim prayer gatherings in one of north India's highest-profile mosques, after a survey team found relics of the Hindu god Shiva and other Hindu symbols there, a lawyer involved in the case said.

The judge at the court in Varanasi — Hinduism's holiest city and the site of the historic Gyanvapi mosque — ruled that Muslim gatherings there should be limited to 20 people, lawyer H. S. Jain said.

The court ordered the survey of the mosque after five women — represented by Jain — sought permission to perform Hindu rituals in one part of it, saying a Hindu temple once stood on the site.

The Gyanvapi mosque, located in the constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is one of several mosques in northern Uttar Pradesh that Hindu hardliners believe — in common with some other religious sites — was built on top of demolished Hindu temples.

Police said the court order would help maintain law and order at a time when hardline Hindu groups tied to Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had stepped up demands to excavate inside some mosques and to permit searches in the Taj Mahal mausoleum.

Leaders of India's 200 million Muslims view such moves as attempts to undermine their rights to free worship and religious expression, with the BJP's tacit agreement.

Uttar Pradesh deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, a BJP member, told Reuters' local TV partner ANI that the government welcomed the court order “and we will implement it”.

In 2019, the Supreme Court allowed Hindus to build a temple at the site of the disputed 16th century Babri mosque that was demolished by Hindu crowds in 1992 who believed it was built where Hindu Lord Ram was born.

The incident led to religious riots that killed nearly 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, across India.

Opinion

Editorial

Noshki killings
Updated 14 Apr, 2024

Noshki killings

It must be asked why Baloch separatists continue to target civilians as well as security men despite large deployment.
Upholding the law
14 Apr, 2024

Upholding the law

THE recent discord in Bahawalnagar offers a chance to reflect on the sanctity of the law and its enforcement across...
Tragic travels
14 Apr, 2024

Tragic travels

FOR those embarking on road and boat journeys, the probability of fatal accidents has seen a steady rise. The recent...
Security lapses
Updated 13 Apr, 2024

Security lapses

Ensuring the safety of foreign citizens is paramount, not just for diplomatic relations but for our economic future.
An eventful season
13 Apr, 2024

An eventful season

THE Senate chairman and deputy chairman were elected unopposed, and 41 new senators were sworn in on Tuesday,...
Living rough
13 Apr, 2024

Living rough

WE either don’t see them or don’t want to see them — not even when they are actively trying to get our...