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Mainstream, VOL 62 No 7 February 17, 2024

Targeting Muslim Religious Sites: A War Cry | Arup Kumar Sen

Saturday 17 February 2024, by Arup Kumar Sen


On January 22, 2024, consecration ceremony of Ram temple at Ayodhya took place with fanfare under state patronage. This event was a turning point in accelerating the process of taking possession of Muslim religious sites by the champions of aggressive Hindutva politics in India.

The new Ram temple was constructed at Ayodhya after getting possession of the temple site, following the Supreme Court verdict associated with the demolition of Babri Masjid. Now, after getting the order of the Varanasi district court on 31st January, the Uttar Pradesh administration moved fast to initiate puja at the southern cellar of the Gyanvapi mosque complex, adjacent to the Vishwanath temple. The order of the district judge has a distinct religious dimension: “District Magistrate, Varanasi/Receiver is being directed to get puja and raag bhog done by a priest, designated by the plaintiff and Kashi Vishwanath Trust, of idols in the cellar to the south, which is disputed…For this, suitable arrangements must be made with iron barricading and other things within seven days.” (Quoted in The Indian Express, February 8, 2024) It is important to note that taking possession of ‘disputed’ Muslim religious sites by the Hindutva forces is taking place with the ratification of the court orders.

It should be mentioned in this context that “Varanasi city’s topmost Muslim cleric has alleged there were no idols in the basement of the Gyanvapi Mosque when the district court on January 31 allowed Hindus to worship there.” To put it in the words of Maulana Abdul Batim Nomani, who is also the secretary of the mosque management committee: “They planted the idols in the southern part of the basement the same night with the help of the local administration and started worshipping them.” (Quoted in The Telegraph, 5 February, 2024)

The latest event of demolition of a mosque in Haldwani town of Uttarakhand on February 8, 2024 is really alarming: “At least five people have been killed and dozens of others injured during a protest sparked by the demolition of a mosque and a religious school in India, the latest in a spate of demolitions targeting Muslim structures. Municipal authorities in Haldwani town…bulldozed the buildings…saying they had been built without permission…But residents said the mosque and the school in Haldwani’s Banphoolpura area were nearly two decades old and had been unfairly targeted, despite a court hearing on the matter scheduled on February 14.” (

The destruction/taking possession of Muslim religious sites by force is a direct assault on the composite culture of India.

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