Will install Krishna idol in Mathura mosque on December 6: Hindu Mahasabha

The choice of the anniversary of the Babri Mosque demolition makes the Hindutva group’s announcement sound even more chilling

Image Courtesy:news.rediff.com

Reiterating their longstanding goal to restore Krishna Janmabhoomi, the Hindu Mahasabha declared that it will install an idol of Krishna at his birthplace in Mathura. However, the exact spot of the deity’s birth is, according to them, located inside a mosque next to the Katra Keshav Dev temple.

The Shahi Idgah, that is at the heart of the controversy, is the alleged birth place of Hindu deity Krishna, and is located adjacent to the Krishna Temple in Mathura. But that isn’t the only thing reminiscent of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement and the Ayodhya dispute. The Hindu Mahasabha has chosen to do the installation on December 6, the anniversary of the Babri Mosque demolition that took place in 1992.

A newswire service copy carried by publications like the Indian Express and Rediff points to Akhil Bharat Hindu Sabha leader Rajyashri Chaudhary who said that the installation will be carried out after a “maha jalabhishek” to “purify” the place. The water for this ceremony will be sourced from different rivers.

“We so far have got political freedom, but spiritual, economic and cultural freedom is yet to be achieved,” Choudhary was quoted as saying, though he denied any connection with the Babri Mosque demolition.

SabrangIndia has reported previously that in wake of the Supreme Court judgment in the Ayodhya dispute case and then emboldened perhaps first by the regime’s open support of the construction of a Ram Temple in Ayodhya as evidenced by the Prime Ministers presence at the ‘bhoomi poojan’ on August 5, hardliners are once again resurrecting their demand for ‘liberating’ Kashi and Mathura. The temples to be “liberated” are the Kashi Vishwanath temple located adjacent to the Gyan Vapi Mosque in Varanasi and the Krishna Janmabhoomi temple located next to the Shahi Idgah in Mathura.

It is noteworthy that in the late 80s and the early 90s, both in the run up to and in the immediate aftermath of the demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya, entire neighbourhoods would reverberate with chants of “Ayodhya Babri toh jhaanki hai, Kashi-Mathura baaki hai!” (Ayodhya Babri was just the beginning, Kashi-Mathura are still left.)

Brief background of the Krishna Janmabhoomi case

An organisation called Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi Nirman Nyas was registered on July 23, 2020. It reportedly has 80 ‘saints’ from 14 states as its members. In August 2020, the Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi Trust had already started laying claim to the four-and-a-half-acre land next to the mosque to use as a Ranga Manch (variety hall) for religious and cultural functions organised by the trust and temple authorities. Then in September, 22 members of the Hindu Army, a right-wing group, were arrested for giving a call for ‘Krishna Janmabhoomi’ movement in Mathura.

A civil suit was first filed in the Mathura Court in September 2020 for removal of encroachment and superstructure illegally raised by Committee of Management of alleged Trust Masjid Idgah with the consent of Sunni Central Board of Waqf on land Khewat No.255 (Two Hundred Fifty-Five) at Katra Keshav Dev city Mathura belonging to deity Shree Krishna Virajman.

SabrangIndia had reported further that this petition before the Mathura Court had submitted that the Plaintiffs have a right under Article 26 of the Constitution of India to regain, hold and manage the property belonging to, owned and possessed by deity Lord Shree Krishna Virajmaan, measuring 13.37 acres situated within the area of Temple Complex in Katra Keshav Dev, City and District Mathura.

But on September 30, a Civil Judge of Mathura Court had dismissed the plea to remove Shahi Idgah Mosque from its present site. Subsequently on October 16 Mathura District Judge Sadhna Rani Thakur admitted a plea against this trial court order dated September 30 that dismissed the suit for removal of Masjid Idgah. Justice Sadhna Rani Thakur had issued notices to Uttar Pradesh Sunni Waqf Board, Trust Masjid Idgah, Srikrishna Janamsthan Trust and Sri Krishna Janam Bhoomi Seva Sangh. 

In November 2020, a writ petition was filed by Advocate Mahek Maheshwari in the Allahabad High Court to remove Shahi Idgah Mosque allegedly built on ‘Krishna Janmabhoomi’. The plea seeks that the temple land should be handed over to the Hindus and a proper trust for Krishna Janmabhoomi Janmasthan be formed, for building a temple on the said land. Further, till the disposal of the petition, the plea also seeks permission for Hindus to worship at the Masjid on certain days in a week and on Janmashtami days.

The plea alleges that Lord Krishna was born in a karagar or dungeon of King Kans and the place of his birth lies beneath the present structure raised by the Shahi Idgah Trust. She further contends in her plea that, “Masjid is not an essential part of lslam and hence, the disputed land should be handed over to the Hindus for exercise of their right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion under Article 25 of the Constitution.”

In June this year, the Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi Mukti Andolan Samiti moved an application before a Mathura court offering the management committee of the Shahi Idgah mosque a larger piece of land if they agree to demolish the Muslim shrine at the site of the deity’s birthplace. The application was moved through advocate Mahendra Pratap Singh before the court of the Civil Judge, Senior Division, Mathura.

Bar and Bench quoted an excerpt of this application: “There are many stones in which Hindu scriptures are visible and the Mosque was built after destroying the temple on the orders of Aurangzeb.”

The application relied on the November 2019 Supreme Court judgment in the Ramjanmabhoomi case, in which the apex court ruled in favour of the Hindu parties and allowed for alternative land to be provided for construction of the mosque. According to India Legal Live, the Samiti proposed to give the larger piece of land, located at a spot that is outside the Chaurasi Kos Parikrama circuit of the temple town, essentially driving the mosque out of the city.

All of this is particularly noteworthy in light of a slew of litigations surrounding the Places of Worship Act.

Places of Worship Act

The objective of this Act was to freeze the status of any place of worship as it existed on August 15, 1947 in order to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of such a place of worship as on that day. Through this legislation, preservation of communal harmony was envisaged.

The section 3 of the Act clearly states, “No person shall convert any place of worship of any religious denomination or any section thereof into a place of worship of a different section of the same religious denomination or of a different religious denomination or any section thereof.” The objective of the law was clearly to maintain communal harmony in the future. 

The law states that all suits, appeals or any other proceedings regarding converting the character of a place of worship, which are pending before any court or authority on August 15, 1947, will abate as soon as the law comes into force. But there are exceptions to this as well, any place of worship referred to in the said sub-sections which is an ancient and historical monument or an archaeological site or remains covered by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 is not declared to maintain its religious character. It is unclear why this was done.

Advocate Mahek Maheshwari’s plea before the Allahabad High Court challenges sections 2,3, 4 of the Act and urges the court to strike them down as unconstitutional as it prohibits conversion of any place of worship and provides for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on August 15, 1947.

The petitioner has argued that the provisions are violative of Articles 14, 25 and 26 of Constitution of India as these provisions are arbitrary, and deny justice. These provisions invariably and indiscriminately ban all kinds of conversions whether by agreement or by legal settlement or a judicial decision and therefore “the impugned provision interferes with the fundamental right of the persons enshrined under Article 25 of the Constitution of India”, mentions the plea.  

It is also submitted by her that these provisions violate the doctrine of Hindu law that Temple property is never lost even if enjoyed by strangers for years and even the king cannot take away property as deity is the embodiment of God and is juristic person, represents ‘Infinite- the timeless’ and cannot be confined by the boundaries of time.

It is also noteworthy that in March 2021, BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay filed a petition before the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991 as it bars remedies against illegal encroachment on the places of worship and pilgrimages prior to August 15, 1947. Following this, a bench of (then) CJI SA Bobde and Justice AS Bopanna has issued notice to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Law and the Ministry of Culture.

Advocates Vikas Singh and Gopal Sankaranarayanan appearing for the petitioner argued that “Centre has excluded the birthplace of Lord Ram at Ayodhya (from the application of the Act) but not the birthplace of Lord Krishna in Mathura, though both are the incarnations of Lord Vishnu, the creator.”

The petition asserts that the law has created an arbitrary, irrational retrospective cut-off date and in the process has legalised the illegal acts of invaders who encroached upon religious institutions back in the day. The plea submits that the provisions of the law, particularly, section 2,3 and 4 take away rights of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs to reclaim their places of worship through Courts.

It is argued that the law violates principle of secularism and is contrary to State’s duty to protect historic places under Article 49 and to preserve religious cultural heritage under Article 51A of the Constitution and further violates Article 14 (right to equality), Article 15 (right against discrimination), Article 21(right to life & personal liberty), Article 25 (right to pray practice propagate religion), Article 26 (right to manage maintain administer places of worship-pilgrimage) and Article 29 (right to conserve culture) of the Indian Constitution.

The petition further contends that pilgrimage and ‘public order’ are both state subjects and Centre does not have legislative competence to enact such a law. The plea also argues upon the definition of ‘places of worship’ and states that places erected or constructed in derogation of the personal law cannot be called ‘places of worship’.


Krishna Janmabhoomi: Plea in Allahabad HC to remove Idgah Mosque
And so it begins: Civil suit filed to remove Idgah next to Krishna temple in Mathura
Krishna Janmabhoomi: Mathura court dismisses plea against Shahi Idgah
Hindu Army members arrested for launching ‘Krishna Janmabhoomi’ movement
Are Kashi-Mathura mosques in the crosshairs of hardliners again?



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