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Gyanvapi case: Varanasi Muslims display maturity, maintain peace

SC warns against any more survey report leaks, orders arrangements be made for Wazu

Sabrangindia 21 May 2022


Gyanvapi
Image Courtesy: PTI

On Friday, even as the Supreme Court transferred the Gyanvapi case from the trial court judge to a more senior and experienced district court judge, Muslims in Varanasi worked towards maintaining peace and harmony. The community has stayed calm and there have been no reports of any outbreak of violence despite the communally charged nature of the case.

Members of the community showed restraint and did not make any inflammatory statements even when egged on by a section of the news media to do so. A cursory look at “vox pops” by local and national news media reporters shows that the community is determined not to be triggered into saying something that might spark violence or instigate others to do something rash.

For example, when a Shining India reporter asked a group of men about the 400-year-old mosque, they responded by asking him, “Why don’t you ask questions about education?” If some community member does feel triggered, others around him act quickly to diffuse tensions and advise them against speaking to the press. Others remain calm and offer mature responses. “We Muslims think of India as our country and want to live here in peace,” was a common response. There is also a high-level of awareness about the law, especially the Places of Worship Act, among community members, something they refer to whenever pressed to comment on the subject.

A lot of this is the result of a sustained campaign by peace activists of all faiths in Varanasi, where they hold daily meetings in communally sensitive neighbourhoods and urge people, especially the youth, to stay calm and ensure peace prevails. SabrangIndia had reported previously about how at least 40 such activists had come together on Monday, May 16 at a meeting and decided:

1)     To go to communally sensitive neighbourhoods and hold meetings with residents, particularly youth to dissuade them from engaging in violence.

2)     To meet various business owners and traders to devise ways to protect shops and commercial establishments.

3)     To hold daily meetings between 4 P.M and 5 P.M in different spots across the city with local residents to ascertain if they fear any outbreak of violence and discuss measures to counter the same.

4)     To hold meetings with leaders and preachers of all faiths to urge them to inspire their followers to stay calm and not engage in violence.

5)     To not allow any outside elements to take over the peace initiative as many of them are just seen as publicity hungry self-styled activists who are only interested in media coverage.

6)     A delegation of activists is also likely to meet members of the civic administration and police force.

7)     To hold sensitization meetings with local media-persons so that mis-reportage and fake news are prevented from vitiating an already charged atmosphere.

There are also ongoing discussions about holding an interfaith peace march. However, in light of the outbreak of violence in other parts of the country during Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti, there are fears that such a rally could be infiltrated by miscreants in a bid to discredit the objectives of the organisers. These concerns may also lead the police to not give permission for the march in the first place, and the activists are determined to operate strictly within the purview of the law.

Meanwhile, Anjuman Intezamia Masjid (AIM), which is the Gyanvapi mosque management authority, had shown tremendous wisdom on Friday, when it issued a notice requesting devotes to not come to the mosque in large numbers and instead perform Friday prayers in their own neighbourhoods as the Wazu tank and restrooms had been sealed by the trial court after a lawyer for the Hindu petitioners claimed that a “Shivling” was found there. The finding has not been corroborated. In fact, mosque authorities insist that it is just a part of an old fountain that stood at the spot. Mosque authorities also suggested that devotees could perform Wazu and use restrooms before coming to the mosque. However, when nearly 1,200 people turned up at the mosque as opposed to the usual 400, mosque authorities had to shut the gate and request the excess people to leave as the maximum capacity of the mosque is only 700 people. The Supreme Court has now directed that arrangements be made to ensure devotees can perform “Wazu” (ritual ablutions before prayers) at the Gyanvapi mosque. The Times of India reports that two drums and 1,000 liters of water have been provided for Wazu so far.

However, next door in Bihar, the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) took to the streets last night to protest the developments in the Gyanvapi case. Shamim Akhter, the state president of the party claimed that the Central government was resorting to creating a communal divide as it was failing to deliver on developmental parameters. “All this time everything was quiet, and now a Shivling has suddenly appeared,” he told YouTube news channel The Activist, adding, “The whole country knows what Yogi and Modi are up to.” He further called the discovery of the “Shivling” a form of “propaganda and conspiracy”. He further said, “There was no justice in the Babri case, only a decision.” Now, while this could be seen as triggering, one must remember that this was a comment by a politician and not an ordinary Muslim person. Despite such comments, the march was peaceful and no outbreak of violence has been reported so far.

Meanwhile, the SC has warned against any further leaks of the data gathered during the video survey at the mosque. LiveLaw quoted Justice DY Chandrachud as saying, “The selective leaks of Commission report must stop,” and that, “Once there is a commission report, it should be submitted to the court. Do not leak things to the press. You must present it to the judge.”

Readers would recall that On May 17, the trial court had removed Ajay Kumar Mishra as one of the Advocate Commissioners tasked to conduct a video survey of the Gyanvapi mosque, for allegedly leaking information to the press. Mishra squarely blamed his cameraman for the leak. This is the same Advocate Commissioner that the AIM had claimed was biased and sought removal of previously. A cameraman named Ganesh was the one who was hired for the video survey from the very outset, and he had not made any statements about the findings of the survey, no matter how much newspersons probed him. But Mishra had also hired a private cameraman named Vibhash Dubey who made a series of “revelations” to different media channels.

Related:

Gyanvapi case: SC transfers the case from Trial Court to District Court
Gyanvapi case: Mosque authorities advise devotees against turning up for namaz in large numbers
Varanasi peace activists begin campaign to maintain communal harmony
Halt Gyan Vapi proceedings today: SC to Varanasi Court
Gyanvapi case: Video survey report to be submitted before Varanasi court today
Gyanvapi case: “Shivling” controversy continues
SC orders "Shivling" to be protected without denying Muslims access to the mosque
Gyanvapi case: Varanasi court removes controversial Advocate Commissioner
Shivling ‘found’ on Gyanvapi mosque premises, court orders area sealed
Gyanvapi case: Two more advocate commissioners added to Shringar Gauri survey team
Gyanvapi case: Court to pronounce order in Shringar Gauri temple survey matter today
Gyanvapi case: One out of five withdrawing name from Maa Shringar Gauri temple petition?
Gyanvapi case: Videographic survey of Maa Shringar Gauri temple begins
Gyanvapi case: Allahabad HC stays ASI survey, proceedings before lower court
Gyanvapi case: Varanasi court to hear petition to hold prayers in Shringar Gauri temple

Gyanvapi case: Varanasi Muslims display maturity, maintain peace

SC warns against any more survey report leaks, orders arrangements be made for Wazu


Gyanvapi
Image Courtesy: PTI

On Friday, even as the Supreme Court transferred the Gyanvapi case from the trial court judge to a more senior and experienced district court judge, Muslims in Varanasi worked towards maintaining peace and harmony. The community has stayed calm and there have been no reports of any outbreak of violence despite the communally charged nature of the case.

Members of the community showed restraint and did not make any inflammatory statements even when egged on by a section of the news media to do so. A cursory look at “vox pops” by local and national news media reporters shows that the community is determined not to be triggered into saying something that might spark violence or instigate others to do something rash.

For example, when a Shining India reporter asked a group of men about the 400-year-old mosque, they responded by asking him, “Why don’t you ask questions about education?” If some community member does feel triggered, others around him act quickly to diffuse tensions and advise them against speaking to the press. Others remain calm and offer mature responses. “We Muslims think of India as our country and want to live here in peace,” was a common response. There is also a high-level of awareness about the law, especially the Places of Worship Act, among community members, something they refer to whenever pressed to comment on the subject.

A lot of this is the result of a sustained campaign by peace activists of all faiths in Varanasi, where they hold daily meetings in communally sensitive neighbourhoods and urge people, especially the youth, to stay calm and ensure peace prevails. SabrangIndia had reported previously about how at least 40 such activists had come together on Monday, May 16 at a meeting and decided:

1)     To go to communally sensitive neighbourhoods and hold meetings with residents, particularly youth to dissuade them from engaging in violence.

2)     To meet various business owners and traders to devise ways to protect shops and commercial establishments.

3)     To hold daily meetings between 4 P.M and 5 P.M in different spots across the city with local residents to ascertain if they fear any outbreak of violence and discuss measures to counter the same.

4)     To hold meetings with leaders and preachers of all faiths to urge them to inspire their followers to stay calm and not engage in violence.

5)     To not allow any outside elements to take over the peace initiative as many of them are just seen as publicity hungry self-styled activists who are only interested in media coverage.

6)     A delegation of activists is also likely to meet members of the civic administration and police force.

7)     To hold sensitization meetings with local media-persons so that mis-reportage and fake news are prevented from vitiating an already charged atmosphere.

There are also ongoing discussions about holding an interfaith peace march. However, in light of the outbreak of violence in other parts of the country during Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti, there are fears that such a rally could be infiltrated by miscreants in a bid to discredit the objectives of the organisers. These concerns may also lead the police to not give permission for the march in the first place, and the activists are determined to operate strictly within the purview of the law.

Meanwhile, Anjuman Intezamia Masjid (AIM), which is the Gyanvapi mosque management authority, had shown tremendous wisdom on Friday, when it issued a notice requesting devotes to not come to the mosque in large numbers and instead perform Friday prayers in their own neighbourhoods as the Wazu tank and restrooms had been sealed by the trial court after a lawyer for the Hindu petitioners claimed that a “Shivling” was found there. The finding has not been corroborated. In fact, mosque authorities insist that it is just a part of an old fountain that stood at the spot. Mosque authorities also suggested that devotees could perform Wazu and use restrooms before coming to the mosque. However, when nearly 1,200 people turned up at the mosque as opposed to the usual 400, mosque authorities had to shut the gate and request the excess people to leave as the maximum capacity of the mosque is only 700 people. The Supreme Court has now directed that arrangements be made to ensure devotees can perform “Wazu” (ritual ablutions before prayers) at the Gyanvapi mosque. The Times of India reports that two drums and 1,000 liters of water have been provided for Wazu so far.

However, next door in Bihar, the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) took to the streets last night to protest the developments in the Gyanvapi case. Shamim Akhter, the state president of the party claimed that the Central government was resorting to creating a communal divide as it was failing to deliver on developmental parameters. “All this time everything was quiet, and now a Shivling has suddenly appeared,” he told YouTube news channel The Activist, adding, “The whole country knows what Yogi and Modi are up to.” He further called the discovery of the “Shivling” a form of “propaganda and conspiracy”. He further said, “There was no justice in the Babri case, only a decision.” Now, while this could be seen as triggering, one must remember that this was a comment by a politician and not an ordinary Muslim person. Despite such comments, the march was peaceful and no outbreak of violence has been reported so far.

Meanwhile, the SC has warned against any further leaks of the data gathered during the video survey at the mosque. LiveLaw quoted Justice DY Chandrachud as saying, “The selective leaks of Commission report must stop,” and that, “Once there is a commission report, it should be submitted to the court. Do not leak things to the press. You must present it to the judge.”

Readers would recall that On May 17, the trial court had removed Ajay Kumar Mishra as one of the Advocate Commissioners tasked to conduct a video survey of the Gyanvapi mosque, for allegedly leaking information to the press. Mishra squarely blamed his cameraman for the leak. This is the same Advocate Commissioner that the AIM had claimed was biased and sought removal of previously. A cameraman named Ganesh was the one who was hired for the video survey from the very outset, and he had not made any statements about the findings of the survey, no matter how much newspersons probed him. But Mishra had also hired a private cameraman named Vibhash Dubey who made a series of “revelations” to different media channels.

Related:

Gyanvapi case: SC transfers the case from Trial Court to District Court
Gyanvapi case: Mosque authorities advise devotees against turning up for namaz in large numbers
Varanasi peace activists begin campaign to maintain communal harmony
Halt Gyan Vapi proceedings today: SC to Varanasi Court
Gyanvapi case: Video survey report to be submitted before Varanasi court today
Gyanvapi case: “Shivling” controversy continues
SC orders "Shivling" to be protected without denying Muslims access to the mosque
Gyanvapi case: Varanasi court removes controversial Advocate Commissioner
Shivling ‘found’ on Gyanvapi mosque premises, court orders area sealed
Gyanvapi case: Two more advocate commissioners added to Shringar Gauri survey team
Gyanvapi case: Court to pronounce order in Shringar Gauri temple survey matter today
Gyanvapi case: One out of five withdrawing name from Maa Shringar Gauri temple petition?
Gyanvapi case: Videographic survey of Maa Shringar Gauri temple begins
Gyanvapi case: Allahabad HC stays ASI survey, proceedings before lower court
Gyanvapi case: Varanasi court to hear petition to hold prayers in Shringar Gauri temple

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