Chorus rises to repeal Places of Worship Act and why it’s legit

Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991 reels prime time discussions and hogs national headlines-again-with the discovery of a majestic Shivling within an alleged Islamic construction erected in 1669 on the desecrated historic Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Banaras. Prima facie, this legislation strives to ensure mosque and temple decorum as of August 15, 1947. This controversial and secretive act was passed during the Congress administration in 1991 in response to Ram Mandir’s resurrection efforts. Many feel this was a constitutional safeguard to prevent inquiries into thousands of Islamic-occupied Hindu temples, including Mathura and Varanasi. This legislation “prohibits the conversion of any house of worship and maintains its religious identity as of August 15, 1947, and for related concerns.” It quashed all ongoing ownership cases, appeals, and judicial actions before August 15, 1947. Thus, it blocked a judicial inquiry into the factual and historical nature of religious places. This legislation carries a maximum 3-year jail sentence and a fine.

Unadulterated history is needed to understand the 1991 Places of Worship Act’s dogmatism: Since the Islamic invasion of India in the 11th century, the demolition of Hindu temples has been a continual practice, as the Prophet is reported as desecrating idols and razing a pagan temple to seek the assent of Kaba. Quran notes:
1. Kafir and polytheist annihilation (40:70).
2. Hindus are the worst of beings (98:6).
3. Non-believers face everlasting burning (4:56).
4. Allah alone is adored (40:62).
5. Fight the devil’s minions (4:76).
6. “Fight till idolatry ends” (2:193).
7. “Idolatry is worse than slaughter” (2: 217).
As Islamic invaders desecrated temples, killed Brahmins, committed mass rapes, and enslaved women, their intolerance was mirrored in their cruelty. The temple of Somnath was destroyed 17 times, demonstrating Islamists’ religiously-motivated hate for everything non-Islamic. The Taliban’s destruction of the Buddha of Bamyan is a recent example of Islamist supremacist ideology that prioritizes exclusionary authoritarianism above humanity’s precious assets. Islamist conquerors have transformed Hindu temples into mosques throughout history to demoralize and vilify Hindus who refused to convert. The Places of Worship Act was passed without consulting indigenous groups, and the Law Commission did no investigation at the government’s request. The Act was implemented without giving the then-BJP-led opposition ample warning. No one debated the bill’s implications for Indian communities’ Article 25 rights. The POW Act unconstitutionally inhibits communities’ capacity to seek legal vengeance for historical and civilizational injustices. The Act seems unlawful and is likely to be overturned.

ASI’s role in the Kashi Vishwanath Temple survey: Ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites protected under the 1958 Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act are excluded from the 1991 Places of Worship Act. Appellants wanted an ASI-led archaeological survey. Since the ASI team uncovered the Shivling and other Hindu relics in the complex, the structure is exempt from the Places of Worship Act as it relates to court proceedings under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act. The Places of Worship Act exempts judicial processes, lawsuits, and appeals begun after August 15, 1947. Given that the temple was destroyed in 1669, Aurangzeb died in 1707, and cement was created in 1845, it’s a falsehood that Aurangzeb constructed the cement-based well as part of the mosque complex.
We must ask these questions as Indians.
1. Is it realistic to suppose that Islamic invaders, who sprang from rags in the desert and never erected any mosque or construction of any type elsewhere in the globe, arrived in India and instantly began erecting the Taj Mahal, Red Fort, and Qutub Minar?
2. The putative Islamic structure’s name, Gyanvapi, is Sanskrit. Why would a religious fundamentalist who exclusively follows the Quran choose a Sanskrit term for a mosque?
Is the Indian state sensible and sagacious if it continues to oppress the Hindu populace by annexing temples to the Abrahamic religion? Islamic sectarianism has targeted Hindu shrines like Shri Ram Janmabhoomi and Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi.
Aren’t terrorist attacks against Hindu pilgrims, such as the burning of railway compartments housing Karsewaks in Godhra and the recent bombing of a bus to Vaishno Devi, motivated by the same religious objectives as the demolition of temples?
Did the Islamic invasion, which most Hindus in India don’t know much about, cause Pakistan and Bangladesh? Does this mean individuals who oppose Hindu recovery of occupied sites don’t comprehend history?
Historian Sitaram Goel, in his seminal work, “Hindu Temples: What Happened To Them,” noted, “The mosque of Benares, built by Aurangzeb, was constructed on the site of the Bisheshwar (Vishwanath) Temple.” The temple was very tall and was very holy among Hindus. On this very site, with those very stones, he constructed a lofty mosque, where the ancient stones were rearranged after being embedded in the walls of the mosque.” They are willing to term a mass movement “majoritarianism” or “Hindu communalism,” but if there is no mass movement, people doubt the authenticity of the assertions. According to estimates, 40,000 temples were demolished by ‘invaders.’ It is no surprise that the present-day Muslims who went to the alleged Islamic structure called “Gyanvapi Mosque” knew about the Shivling and opted to call it their wuzukhana, i.e., the bathroom to cleanse the body parts. The fact that the Muslim clerics present at the time of the survey tried to preclude the videography quoting a lame excuse, “the fish might die,” testifies to the same. What sort of brotherhood would these Muslims have for Hindus, and whether or not Hindus must reconsider the realm of secularism? After all, temples were continually razed across Bharat. Historians Sitaram Goel and Shri Arun Shourie have written extensively on the issue, including how efforts were made to “secularize” history. In his work Hideaway Communalism, Shourie revealed the efforts of several important academies to bury original texts that chronicled and lauded the demolition of temples in different regions of the nation by invaders and the rationale for such devastation. In any event, as it is an issue of property rights as well as religious rights, no one may make compromises on behalf of impacted temples and communities.
As advocate J.Sai Deepak once noted, “The Places of Worship Act impedes civilizational justice and must be repealed.” An Indian government, unlike the British Indian government, should take a firm stand on topics of civilizational importance. Since the party in opposition was vociferous in its opposition to the POW Act in 1991, it must act on its beliefs now that it is in power and has what it takes to right historical wrongs. Legally, impacted temple communities are also entitled to recover such sites. However, since they are being gracious and requesting the restoration of at least their holy sites, waqf boards, and churches might provide the lands they own for the rebuilding of their respective institutions after turning over the occupied sites. Negationism cannot masquerade as secularism in New India.

Yuvraj Pokharna is an independent journalist and columnist.