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Nobody needs to ‘plant evidence’ to prove that the Gyanvapi Mosque was built over a Temple: Caravan should stop fear mongering

The historicity of the holy city has never been in dispute, to begin with. Perhaps for the Left, the history of India started with Islamic rule, however, the truth is far from it.

On 9th November 2019, the Supreme Court of India passed a historic judgement in the Ram Janmabhoomi case. The apex court handed over the entire 67 acres of Ram Janmabhoomi to Hindus and ordered for the government to give the Muslims 5 acres of alternate land to build their mosque. This decision will perhaps go down in history as the first case where a Historical-Civilisational issue was resolved by a judicial process. Post the verdict, the usual elements have started their fear-mongering. The Caravan has released a baseless video that claims that the Modi government is paving the way for another “Babri incident” to take place where the Kashi-Vishwanath corridor is taking shape and the Gyanvapi mosque stands.

The Caravan video essentially claims that the Kashi Vishwanath Temple corridor, spread over an area of 39,000 square metres with an investment of Rs 700 crore, linking the ancient shrine and one of the 12 Jyotirlinga Temples to the famous ghats in Varanasi, is an attempt to make it easier to conduct a Babri like demolition of the Gyanpati Mosque. The video also claims that attempts were made to bury a statue of Nandi near the Mosque.

These claims are not new. In fact, the article that this Caravan video is based on was first published in April by Caravan. In the article headlined “How Modi’s Kashi Vishwanath corridor is laying the ground for another Babri incident”, the article says – “The residents were attempting to bury a small statue of Nandi—a bull-form that ancient Hindu scripture proclaims guards the entry to the Hindu deity Shiva’s abode—near the north wall of the Gyanvapi mosque, a centuries-old structure that shares a boundary wall with the famed Kashi Vishwanath temple”. Further, the article says, “The burying of the Nandi idol is the latest in a long history of attempts to indicate Hindu historicity to the site at which the Gyanvapi mosque stands—and only one of the many disturbing resemblances to the events that preceded the demolition of Babri Masjid”.

Read: Sarita, Caravan, Champak and the Delhi Press: A tightly controlled wide net that peddles Hinduphobia and propaganda

What is interesting in the entire incident and its narration is the fact that the ‘Liberal’ coterie actually and truly believes that Hindus need to ‘plant evidence’ to claim that the Gyanvapi Mosque was built on a Hindu temple.

Gyanvapi Mosque was built by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb after destroying the Kashi Vishwanath temple. The remnants of the ancient Hindu temple can be seen on the walls of the Gyanvapi mosque now. The temple was an earlier restoration of the original Kashi Vishwanath temple, which was destroyed and rebuilt several times in history. The current Kashi Vishwanath was built on a site adjacent to the Mosque in 1780.

The Gyanvapi Mosque – Erstwhile temple of Kashi Vishwanath. It was destroyed by Aurangzeb to build the mosque

One look at the Gyanvapi Mosque and it would be quite evident that the Mosque was built over the remnants of a Temple even to people who might not be familiar with the tyrannical history of Aurangzeb, an Islamist bigot, who incidentally, the Left loves to glorify. It is thus pertinent to ask why Hindus would need to plant any evidence of the existence of the Temple when even visually, the proof is there for all to see.

In fact, when the Ayodhya movement was gaining steam and even in the later years, it was speculation that proving how Islamic invasions destroyed temples to build mosques would be far easier if the Gyanvapi Mosque’s cause had been taken considering the evidence of the existence of the Hindu temple was far more evident there than Ayodhya. The case itself would have been easy to prove in the court of law.

The most insidious statement in the article itself, however, is “The burying of the Nandi idol is the latest in a long history of attempts to indicate Hindu historicity to the site at which the Gyanvapi mosque stands”.

The historicity of the holy city has never been in dispute, to begin with. Perhaps for the Left, the history of India started with Islamic rule, however, the truth is far from it.

Read: The Reclamation Project: Here’s how the great Maratha warriors fought to reclaim Ayodhya, Prayag and Kashi

With the Kashi Vishwanath Temple corridor, the city of Varanasi is undergoing the first major transformation since 1780 AD. However, it is not the first-ever. Earlier the Maratha Queen Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore had gentrified the temple and the surrounding areas and this is recorded history. The ‘Hindu historicity’ of Varanasi was never a question, to begin with.

Interestingly, what the video does not mention, while questioning the Hindu historicity of Varanasi is that as the process to build the corridor is set in motion, huge swathes of buildings flanking the narrow lanes leading to ghats and temples have been demolished. The clearing process has resulted in a discovery of 40 temples in the area, which was until now obscured by the buildings and structures in the region. PM Modi has said that these temples will be preserved for public darshan.

Read: PM Modi’s pet project: Kashi Vishwanath Temple corridor seeks to reclaim Varanasi’s cultural heritage

Further, in May 2019 itself, the Muslims of the area had expressed “fears” about the Gyanvapi Mosque. They had said that earlier, the Mosque was surrounded by building but now, it stands “exposed”.

Media had narrated an incident where a chhabootra was being demolished by authorities in October last year. The demolition prompted a mob to gather in the area which ultimately had to be stopped. Later, it was reconstructed. It has raised concerns among the Muslim community over the safety of the Mosque.

S.M. Yaseen, joint secretary of Anjuman Intezamiya Masajid (AIM), Varanasi, an administrative body of the Mosque, had said, “Gyanvapi Mosque could meet the same fate as Babri,” TOI reported. “I remember the chant ‘Ayodhya toh ek jhaaki hai, Kashi, Mathura abhi baaki hai (Ayodhya is merely a glimpse, Kashi, Mathura now remain)’ which became popular among kar sewaks after Babri Masjid in Ayodhya was demolished in 1992.”

Yaseen was quoted further as saying, “Until now, the shops and houses in narrow lanes shielded the mosque. Now it stands exposed, surrounded by Temples.” He adds, “Between 1991 and 1992, the area surrounding the mosque was cleared by the then BJP government led by Kalyan Singh for ‘beautification’ of Ayodhya.”

Read: ‘Gyanvapi Mosque now stands exposed, surrounded by Temples’, Muslims concerned over Kashi Vishwanath Corridor: Report

In the statements by these elements, nothing really points towards any tension in tangible terms, but only in terms of personal fears that are unfounded. No proof of any kind of Babri like attempts has been given either by Caravan or by the Muslim residents.

To further this narrative after the Ayodhya verdict points towards a sinister agenda not just of the Caravan but several other Left portals as well.

Following are some of the headlines that have been published by the Left media.

The Wire article written by Teesta Setalvad.

The Week article

Quartz article

The truth of the matter is that Islamic invaders did destroy temples and build Mosques on top of the ruins and the Ayodhya victory, as a title suit, has cast a spotlight on the atrocities heaped by Islamic invaders. What it has also done is vindicated the claims of the so-called “right-wing” which can no longer be dismissed as “bigotry” by the Left.

After the Babri demolition, the Hindus of India were vilified to the hilt. With the Ram Janmabhoomi issue solved and Hindus gaining possession of the entire 67-acre land, the fear-mongering regarding Gyanvapi Mosque seems to be only one of the latest narratives by the Left to demonise Hindus.

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