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EDITORIAL: The Hindutva rampage on mosques in India goes on unchecked, and in more than one case it has been upheld by courts. Recently, a court has ordered authorities to limit the number of worshipers to 20 in the historic Gyanvapi mosque. The court had accepted a survey report that had claimed the existence of some relics of Hindu god Shiva inside the wazukhana (ablution room) of the mosque. Something like had happened earlier too.

The Hindu groups in Modi’s India seek demolition of mosques, alleging that about 500 mosques were built over Hindu temples in India. The Gyanvapi mosque, located in Narendra Modi’s political constituency, Varanasi, is one of the three large mosques in Utter Pradesh (UP); it was constructed by Aurangzeb, close to the Kashi Viswanath temple.

And what the survey team wrongly, perhaps maliciously, claimed that shivling was found on the Gyanvapi premises. That kind of perverted logic was also agreed to by the court as Hindutva goons stormed and destroyed the Babri Masjid in 1992. If anybody believes that India is a secular state and its courts are independent should think again, especially now when even the World Heritage has pointed out that Taj Mahal is under threat of renovation to look like a Hindu temple.

Otherwise, how would a district court go against much ballyhooed but never implemented Violation of Places of Worship Act 1991, which says the status of religious places as in 1947 remains? Last month the Kashmiri Muslims — who are being converted into a minority in the occupied state — were refused permission to offer Juma’atul-Wida prayer in the Jamia Masjid of Srinagar.

The court verdict limiting the number of worshippers in Gyanvapi mosque is not out of line with Hindutva-propelled extremism. Its germ was always there in Indian polity for over a century but it was Modi’s ascension to power in 2014 that it became the state policy. Under his superintendence the religious minorities, particularly Muslims, have come under increasing pressure to convert to Hinduism or leave India.

Unfortunately, there is not much to witness on international front to force the Modi government to give up on this mindset. The only time someone openly spoke against Hindutva scheme of things was Michael Kugelman of the Wilson Center, and that was in relation to the attacks on India’s Christian community by Hindu right wing groups.

Strangely, but unacceptably, while minorities in India face existential threat the West, which prioritises its treatment of other states on the basis of respect for human rights and safety of minorities, looks the other way. And not very different is the case of some oil-rich Muslim states for whom business with India takes precedence over anything else.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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