Right-Wing Groups Want to 'Liberate' Kashi and Mathura Temples; RSS Says Won't Push

The Gyanvapi mosque shares a boundary wall with the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, while the Shahi Idgah mosque stands next to the Krishna Janmabhoomi temple in Mathura.

New Delhi: A year after the Supreme Court’s historic verdict in the Ayodhya title dispute in favour of the Hindu party, followed by a foundation stone-laying ceremony for the Ram Mandir on August 5, some groups have been talking about ‘liberating’ Kashi and Mathura temples, since mosques exist next to them.

The Gyanvapi mosque shares a boundary wall with the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, while the Shahi Idgah mosque stands next to the Krishna Janmabhoomi temple in Mathura.

Calling the mosques as two “symbols of slavery”, BJP leader and rural development and panchayat raj minister in Karnataka K.S. Eshwarappa had said on August 5 that “a symbol of slavery disturbs our attention and points out that you are a slave”. He reiterated his stance and said, “… All Hindus across the world have a dream that those symbols of slavery should be removed on the lines of Ayodhya. The masjids in Mathura and Kashi will be destroyed too and temples will be rebuilt.”

According to an Indian Express report, the Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad (ABAP) an organisation of Hindu seers on Monday said that they would initiate a campaign to “free Hindu temples” of Varanasi and Mathura on the lines of Ram Janmabhoomi movement. For this, a resolution was passed by the chiefs of all 13 akharas, chaired by parishad president Mahant Narendra Giri, in Prayagraj. The Nirmohi Akhara of the ABAP was involved in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement.

Also read: In Ayodhya, Landmark Ram Temple Demolished by Ram Mandir Trust to Make Way for New One

Indian Express quoted Giri as saying, “The Muslim attackers and terrorists destroyed our temples during the Mughal era and built mosques or maqbaras. Just like the sant community ran a campaign for the Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya and the matter was solved, we are determined to do the same in Varanasi and Mathura. The Akhara Parishad will also get FIRs registered in Varanasi and Mathura related to the destruction of Hindu temples.”

He said the akharas will take the help of Hindu outfits like Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to “fight a collective legal battle to free the temples”, the report said.

“During the digging of the ground at Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi, remains were found confirming that our temples were destroyed and a mosque was built over it. Same thing happened in Mathura. The Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad will become a party in the case and will fight the legal battle with full commitment. We will not take any unconstitutional route. We are confident that the decision will be in our favour,” Giri added, as per the report.

However, according to The Hindu, the RSS on Tuesday said that it will not push for the “liberation” of Kashi and Mathura temples even as the ABAP passed a resolution to take up the issue.

Also read: Here’s (Probably) Why Nitish Kumar’s 2.5-Hour Speech Got More ‘Dislikes’ Than ‘Likes’


The Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi, built on the site of a temple demolished by Aurangzeb. Credit: Dr. AP Singh

During the Babri Masjid’s demolition decades ago, thousands chanted, “Yeh to kewal jhanki hai, Kashi, Mathura baaki hai (This is just a sneak peek, Varanasi and Mathura are still left).”

The medieval-era Gyanvapi mosque, which is in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, was built during the reign of the Mughal emperor Akbar and renovated during Aurangzeb’s rule. It’s also said that the mosque was built during the time of Aurangzeb, around 1669.

Author-historian Audrey Truschke wrote in her book Aurangzeb: The Man and the Myth: “My understanding is that the Gyanvapi masjid was indeed built during Aurangzeb’s reign. The masjid incorporates the old Viswanath temple structure destroyed on Aurangzeb’s orders as its qibla wall. While the mosque dates back to Aurangzeb’s period, we do not know who built it.”

The Shahi Idgah mosque stands adjacent to the Krishna Janmabhoomi temple complex in Mathura, considered the birthplace of god Krishna in Hinduism. Historians believe that Aurangzeb also destroyed the ancient Keshavnath temple, and built the Shahi Idgah mosque in its plinth.