'Blatant Violation of Places of Worship Act': Asaduddin Owaisi on Gyanvapi Mosque Order

"I have lost one Babri Masjid and I don't want to lose another masjid," the AIMIM chief said.

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New Delhi: All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi has said that the Varanasi court’s order allowing the survey and videography inside Gyanvapi mosque to continue was a “blatant violation” of the Places of Worship Act, 1991.

“The order of the court is a blatant violation of the Places of Worship Act 1991. It is a violation of Supreme Court judgment given in the Babri Masjid title dispute,” Owaisi told ANI. “I hope that the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and the Masjid committee would go to the Supreme Court. I have lost one Babri Masjid and I don’t want to lose another masjid.”

The leader also told India Today that if the survey continued, India is likely to see another repeat of what witnessed before, during and after the Babri Masjid demolition.

The Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh, Owaisi demanded, should file cases against those who are trying to change the nature of religious places. “Yogi government should immediately file an FIR against these people as the 1991 Act clearly says that any person who tries to change the nature of religious places that stood on August 15, 1947. If courts find them guilty, they can be imprisoned for three years,” he said.

On Thursday, a Varanasi court said that the survey of the Gyanvapi mosque, located near the Kashi Vishwanath temple, will continue despite objections from mosque authorities. Setting the final date for the report on the survey to be submitted as May 17, the court appointed two additional advocate commissioners to oversee the inspection and decided not to replace the present advocate general, as was being demanded by the mosque authorities.

The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, says the religious character of place of worship will continue as it existed on on August 15, 1947, and:

“No person shall convert any place of worship of any religious denomination or any section thereof into a place of worship of a different section of the same religious denomination or of a different religious denomination or any section thereof.”

The same act says “conversion, with its grammatical variations, includes alteration or change of whatever nature.”

The only exception in this law was for the “Babri Masjid/Ram Janam Bhoomi’ dispute in Ayodhya.

Though the 1991 Act bars the jurisdiction of courts in any matter involving the conversion of a place of worship from one religion to another, five Hindu women had submitted a petition to the Varanasi court seeking year-round access to what they said was the Maa Shringar Gauri shrine located behind the western wall of the mosque complex.

In response, the court in April had ordered an inspection of the mosque premises, to be headed by advocate commissioner Ajay Kumar Mishra. It had ordered for a report to be submitted by May 10.