ALMOST 26 years ago, Babri Masjid was demolished in India by hard-core Hindus and since the demolition of Babri Masjid till today it awaits for its decision. There have been several adjourned sessions by Indian Supreme and high courts on the matter of Babri Masjid but yet no outcome has been announced after several years of its annihilation which shows Indian mindset and non-seriousness towards the sentiments of Muslims living particularly in India and all around. Lately in Indian elections 2019, while Modi was on a move to secure his office again as PM, he used all tactics to lure hard core saffronized Hindus particularly against Muslims and other minorities residing in India. The Babri Masjid issue is vital to understand the Hindu belligerence and militancy when over 2000 people were killed and regarded as one of the largest communal violence in Indian history. Likewise the present situation in Kashmir was also Indian agenda to abrogate the special status of Occupied Kashmir.
Modi in early March, during elections campaign arrived in Varanasi, a city located on the banks of river Ganga, Uttar Pardesh, India to lay the foundation stone for the Kashi Vishwanath corridor project. Varanasi is the constituency of Modi and he has allocated 600 crores of Indian rupee for this project. Nearby to this project is centuries old mosque named Gyanvapi mosque which holds equal importance and sacred values to the local Muslim populace. With the active developments on this project, conflict has started emerging due to number of reasons. According to reports, a few local residents were caught red handed while doing some deceptive trick by burying a small statue of Nandi which is a bull form sculpture and Hindus consider it blessed as it belongs from their Hindu god Shiv area, in the vicinity of Gyanvapi mosque. It is important to note that this mosque shares a boundary wall with the temple named Kashi Vishwanath temple for which Modi and his party intends to develop a project. Being the constituency of Modi, this area and planned project of Corridor is going to get more focus as the Chief Minister of UP, Yogi Adityanath is another hard core Hindu fundamentalist and leaves no stone unturned in order to please the Hindus and BJP.
News is coming up that to work rapidly on the construction of site, UP authorities are clearing up the area and in that some of old small Hindu temples are also made debris and in this process about 300 homes are demolished and 600 families are displaced. Locals have protested against this forced displacement and unauthorized purchase of land and some local Hindu priests have raised objection on the destruction of small temples commenting that place of worship, small or big holds religious values and Modi is only creating rift among masses by constructing this project. Varanasi residents also claim that this corridor is being built by crushing the soul of Kashi, and they not only have destroyed 15 or 20 temples but numerous idols which were there since ancient times hence, attacking on our faith by doing such acts. Now history is repeating itself after many years and seem another Babri Masjid like incident, Modi government wants to happen. In 1936, dispute like Babri Masjid emerged when Hindu residents of Benarus, as Varanasi is the new name of the place claimed the rights of the land on which Gyanvapi mosque is situated. However in 1937, court allowed the Muslim to offer prayers and celebrate Urs of the Sufi saint buried in the courtyard of the mosque. In 1991, PV Narasimha Rao government passed an act naming it as ‘The Places of Worship Act’ which stated that all religious sites would be maintained as they were on 15th of August, 1947. Despite the passing of this law, in 1991 RSS activists Somnath Vyas filed a case in Varanasi civil court demanding that the mosque site be handed over to the authorities of temple. During the construction of this project one of mosque’s boundary wall was demolished which has flared up the Muslims living in the area and stated that this is going to endanger the mosque. With the Muslims and Hindus residing in large numbers in the corridor project area, there are chances that any kind of misunderstanding can cause havoc and incidents like Babri Masjid. Since the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, the area (Varanasi) has been also witnessing Hindu-Muslim tension every year and there are imminent chances of another breakdown with regard to Gyanvapi mosque.
Modi’s decision to construct Kashi Vishwanath corridor seems another step to provide Hindu extremists a chance to cause bloodshed using religion. Not to forget that RSS followers and many in Modi’s India keep hatred against Muslims and other religious minorities and many incidents of intolerance against Muslims are often part of news. Recently, on Modi’s birthday on 17th of September, one of staunch supporters presented him a 1.25 kg gold crown for the Varanasi temple.India has never shown religious tolerance be it Muslims or Sikhs or any other followers and the countries where Modi is honoured and allowed for construction of temples in Muslim countries, must think what Modi is doing in India and Kashmir. India has never given Muslims or any other minority freedom to express their feelings or follow religious sentiments with safety. There is a dire need to stop Modi on spreading hatred, extremism and intolerance towards Muslims particularly as world can witness easily and it needs no proof as everything is crystal clear what’s happening in Modi’s shining India.
— The writer works for Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, a think-tank based in Islamabad.