The Varanasi district court’s acceptance of a suit filed by five Hindu women seeking permission to pray at Gyanvapi Masjid complex and now the local court in Agra allowing a plea to be heard for digging up Jama Masjid’s steps have reopened what the Supreme Court’s 2019 Ayodhya verdict was supposed to have closed forever—a frenzied debate on the religious character of places of worship.
A local court in Agra on Monday issued notices to the UP Central Waqf Board and other stakeholders after allowing a plea by Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi Sanrakshit Seva Trust to recover the idol of Keshavdev. The trust has claimed the idol was buried under the steps of Jama Masjid in Agra. The court issued notices to the Management Committee of the Shahi Masjid Agra Fort, Chhoti Masjid Diwan-e-Khas, the secretary of Jahanara Begum Masjid Agra Fort, the Waqf Board chairman, and the secretary of Shri Krishna Janmasthan Seva Sansthan, asking them to respond by the end of May. The petition was filed on May 11 on behalf of the trust’s chairman, Manoj Kumar Pandey.
This development comes just weeks after Devkinandan Thakur, a so-called religious preacher from Mathura, demanded at a ‘Bhagwat Katha’ in Agra that the idols of Keshav Dev be returned to the Hindus. Thakur is also the patron of the Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi Sanrakshit Seva Trust. He is working religiously with single-minded devotion to improve the prospects of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. There’s nothing better than digging up controversies!
“Every day, the Muslims trample the idols when they enter the mosque for Namaz, which is an insult to Hindu society. The Muslims did not pay heed to the appeal of Thakur Devkinandan to allow the stairs to be dug up and the idols of the deity recovered. Going to court was the final resort,” Pandey fumed.
Pandey further claimed that he has sufficient evidence of the idols lying buried under the stairs of the mosque. “Many historical accounts prove that Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb demolished the temple of Keshavdev in 1670 and buried the idol under the steps of the Jama Masjid in Agra. Many historians, including those from Aurangzeb’s reign, have described the episode in their books’’. However, Pandey could not provide any evidence. The idols should be recovered so that they can be taken to Mathura and worshipped,” he added.
It is significant to note how swiftly the local court acted. The application was filed only on May 11. The court ordered the issue of notices on May 15. The notices have to be answered by May 31! Who says the justice system is delayed in India? The question is, Who is propping up this issue at this stage?
It seems the Supreme Court’s writ runs only against Muslims, Dalits, Christians, and Sikhs. The Hindu organizations do not accept the Supreme Court’s orders on maintaining the status quo at places of worship as of August 15, 1947. The lower judiciary does not implement these orders. On the other hand, they accept pleas from Hindu organizations to dig up mosques and their premises to find idols! The Supreme Court has not taken any action against the judges of the lower judiciary for flouting the orders made in the Ayodhya verdict and for accepting pleas to change the status of places of worship. The BJP leadership will be highly enthused about this Agra court order. If the steps of Jama Masjid in Agra are dug up, whether the Keshav Dev idol is found buried there or not, this new episode will shore up the chances of the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. This digging up of the Agra mosque steps and other places will generate more employment under MNREGA. The unemployment problem will be solved! Do not be surprised if there is a Keshav Yatra all over India before the 2024 elections. Only a communal frenzy can prop up the BJP!
(The views expressed are personal)