Updated: May 28
"Rajdeep...What what what do you want me to do? Do you want these people to walk all over me? Do you want me to leave my identity as a Muslim? This is not a question of interfaith dialogue!" AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi aggressively asserts his position on national television regarding the Gyanvapi report. Vociferously he tells Rajdeep that he has already lost one masjid and does not want to lose another. Aggressively he objects to the legal proceedings calling them unconstitutional that they are not in line with Places of Worship Act 1991(PWA 1991) and are in fact being used to open old wounds, almost threatening the current administration to uphold the PWA 1991. Rajdeep's follow-up question "Do you have faith in the courts?" Supreme Court's supreme but not infallible he replies and vows to fight for the rights granted to him by the Constitution.
Meanwhile stating that it was on a mission to preserve the balance of the nation, the Supreme Court (SC) said its May 17 order of protecting the site where the Shivling was reportedly found will continue, while the Varanasi district magistrate will make arrangements for ‘wuzu’ (ablution) inside the mosque. The SC will hear the case next in the second week of July.
Any Hindu who has seen the Gyanvapi photos can see it as plain as daylight that the purported fountain found in the wazu khana is a Shivlingam. In one of his talks archaeologist KK Mohammed says that archaeological finds become pregnant with meaning at historically significant sites - Kashi is the oldest city known to man and the epicentre of Hindu civilisation. Any suggestion that it is a fountain mocks and deeply wounds the already injured Hindu psyche that has had no opportunity to heal.
Why already injured?
Hindu deities are consecrated and considered living beings which is why they are so much a part of our families and passed on with great love and bhakti from one generation to the next. Any desecration then is a painful experience. What then must be made of a willful and wanton desecration that continued unabated for over three centuries until last week?
A quick Google search will reveal that Vazu or Wudu is a mandatory purification ritual which involves washing of the hands, nostrils, face, arms, head and feet - including washing your mouth three times with specific instructions to spit out the water.
Yet we wait for the honourable courts confirm that which is clear to a billion Hindus - it is a Shivling - Maybe then we will have earned the right to outrage at the fact that Shiva Shankar we worship, has been subjected to humiliating desecration in his own home! Women devotees who are unable to enter the Shringar Gouri temple continued to worship just the entrance frame of the temple for more than three decades! Meanwhile, all we could do is beseech the courts.
But wait, is that even a viable option? Can we argue against the PWA 1991 which has effectively sealed the civilisational fate of Hindus? J Sai Deepak discusses this complex legislation, summarised below:
The Places of Worship Act enacted in 1991 effectively prevents the initiation of any legal proceedings to reclaim any occupied religious sites. That the position of occupation/possession as it existed on the day of independence that is 15 August 1947 shall not be interfered with AND the nature and character of the place will remain as it was on the day of independence.
The only exception made and therefore the ONLY teertha kshetra (holy site) that can be reclaimed through legal proceedings was the Rama Janmabhoomi. All other places whose occupation, ownership and title were contested, would remain unchallenged on account of the application of PWA 1991.
Principles of property ownership continue to apply to each of these sites yet on account of the PWA 1991 legislations, thousands of legal challenges and proceedings were vanquished in one stroke.
We know for a fact that for every piece of usurped land, there is an identified community which has the right of ownership and guardianship over that particular site, as it amounts to property within the meaning of law.
No third party can give up or forgo the rights of property on behalf of the owner. (L K Advani had said that if Muslims were ready to give up their claims over the illegal structure and Rama Janmabhoomi, he would ensure that politically they would give up the fight for Kashi, Mathura and other temples, which were important for Hindus.)
A political position has no basis in law and it does not bind members of the community, most certainly not the rightful claimants and owners of that property.
In the first instance, members of the Hindu community can support the direct claimants in their fight to reclaim title to the disputed temple land.
If however the direct owners and stakeholders decide to give up their rights, we the Hindu community and devotees have the right to accuse them of having sacrificed our interests. In fact the Hindu community can then take over the fight to reclaim temple land.
Basic principle is that the deity's rights and place must be protected by the members of its community. If the direct guardians of the deity and his abode sacrifice the deities' rights, the devotees have a legally guaranteed right to take over the fight and continue reclamation.
One of the critical provisions of this act, section 7 states that any right that a person may have under any other legislation will be overridden by this act. If any rightful claimant is to initiate similar proceedings for Kashi, Mathura or any other religious places including for the lands usurped by the churches - it is not possible to reclaim them through the judicial process!
The government has the right to repeal this particular legislation, but currently no political will.
A petition challenging the PWA 1991 is currently pending with the Supreme Court. The presence of any government is no guarantee of safety for Hindus as it has been at the receiving end of the state’s legislative and executive power - the state with its entire machinery has walked all over Hindus, yet we haven’t even raised a whimper.
Sitaram Goel and Meenakshi Jain have painstakingly documented the plight of Hindu temples. At the last known count, there were 40,000 temples that were desecrated, usurped and illegally occupied that Hindus have legitimately not been able to claim.
Our identity has been demolished and wiped out temple by temple.
Mr Owasi is right, this is not a question of interfaith dialogue - Hindus are actually fighting for their survival in the only land they can call home and the odds are seriously stacked against them, in their own home.