'Mosques Should Voluntarily Move Away from Temples': UP Minister Sanjay Nishad

'We do not need to move. Other religions in Indian culture can worship somewhere else,' the NISHAD party chief further said, citing the example of the Babri Masjid.

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New Delhi: Speaking to reporters in Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat on Monday, state cabinet minister and NISHAD party chief Sanjay Nishad said that mosques in the vicinity of temples should be ‘voluntarily’ moved to different locations.

According to a report in the Indian Express, Nishad said he wants the mosques to be moved away “jis tarah se Ram mandir se hatt gaya aur Ram mandir aaram se ban raha hai aur masjid alag se ban raha hai (just like what happened with the Ram Temple where the temple is being built with ease and the mosque is being built some place else)”.

Nishad, here, is referring to the Ram temple in Ayodhya which is being built where the Babri Masjid once stood, before it was ransacked and destroyed by Hindutva mobs who placed Ram idols within the premises of the Muslim place of worship.

It is worth noting that the Supreme Court, while allocating the land to the Hindu petitioner in the case, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), had described the “illegal” demolition of the mosque in 1992 as “an egregious violation of the rule of law”.

Also read: What the Supreme Court’s Ayodhya Judgment Means for the Future of the Republic

Hume hatne ki nahi, balki doosre Bharat ke sanskriti hai agar wo dharmik puja karna chahte hai toh kahin banakar puja kar sakte hai (We do not need to move. Other religions in Indian culture can worship somewhere else),” Nishad said further.

Nishad’s party is part of the ruling coalition in Uttar Pradesh and won six seats in the assembly elections in the state earlier this year. He is the fisheries minister in the state cabinet.

While speaking to reporters, Nishad also reportedly welcomed the government’s decision to conduct surveys in the state’s madrasas, claiming that these learning institutions share links with terrorists and criminals.

On August 31, the Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government had announced its decision to conduct a survey of ‘unrecognised’ madrasas in the state and collect information regarding the number of teachers, the curriculum and the amenities available to students there.

The survey, which began September 12, is being met with pushback from a number of Muslims organisations and figures as well as Opposition parties in the state and at the national level. 

The executive order through which the decision to conduct the survey was communicated noted that the survey teams would find out information regarding the “source of funding” of these undocumented madrasas and whether or not they have links to any NGOs.

The survey teams will comprise the sub-district magistrate of the tehsil concerned, the district’s basic education officer and the district minority welfare officer. These teams are required to complete the survey by October 5 and submit their reports to the concerned district magistrates by October 10.

While the opponents of the survey have alleged attempts to interfere with the functioning of these independent institutions, the Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state has maintained that it is being undertaken to ensure basic amenities are available to the students at these institutions.

State minority affairs minister Danish Azad Ansari told the Express that the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had suggested that the survey be undertaken after an alleged report that a teacher in a Lucknow madrasa had chained up the students.

“Whenever a terrorist is arrested, just see where they are found. Whenever a criminal and a terrorist are caught, they are found to have links with madrasas. These madrasas should do something to improve. They should wash their stains,” Nishad had said while talking to reporters in Baghpat.

He also added that the BJP government, through the surveys, seeks to educate the students so they are “not taught religious hatred”.