Taking a grim view of the recent developments at the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board has asked the Central government to clarify its position on the Places of Worship Act, 1991. The board, which held an emergency online meeting on May 17, said in a statement that while sectarian forces had launched an onslaught on places of worship of Muslims across the country, the courts had disappointed the minorities in recent judgments relating to Gyanvapi and other mosques.
The board’s statement, signed by Dr Mohd Vaqar Uddin Latifi, office secretary, also said the Central and State governments’ silence on the issue was disconcerting. It called upon the Central government to clarify its stand on the Places of Worship Act, 1991, since recent court orders had been in violation of this act which mandates that the character of places of worship as existing on August 15, 1947 should be maintained. The Act had made an exception in the case of Ayodhya since a movement had already been launched in the country when the law was enacted.
The Supreme Court also had categorically stated in its Ramjanmabhoomi verdict that the law should be upheld in the case of Kashi and Mathura.
But the developments in the last three years had violated the letter and spirit of this order. Especially in the case of Gyanvapi mosque, the developments were clearly indicative of a well thought out plan of action. The Centre’s silence on this issue, the statement said, was a criminal act since it was the government’s constitutional responsibility to uphold the Constitution and the law. The board also called on the secular parties in the country to clarify their stand on this issue since their silence was intriguing. The board also appealed to preachers and Islamic scholars to enlighten the masses about the sanctity of a mosque, its place in the sharia and how to protect it. It called upon Muslims to remain patient and counter the hate campaign logically and legally. The board announced that if need be, it will launch a countrywide campaign.