On Thursday, a court in Varanasi ordered an archaeological survey of the Kashi Vishwanath temple and the Gyanwapi mosque premises to resolve a lingering dispute involving the two shrines. The cost will be borne by the Uttar Pradesh government. Now, a day later, the controversy has made its way to social media platforms, with politicians, activists and many others weighing in on the topic.
For the uninitiated, Varanasi's Gyanvapi Mosque shares a border with the present day Kashi Vishwanath temple and by several accounts was built by Aurangzeb on the ruins of the original temple.Over the last few decades many have sought the removal of this religious structure, along the ideological lines that paved the way for the Ayodhya Ram Mandir. But unlike the destroyed Babri Masjid, the mosque stands to this day and falls under the purview of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991.
But even as many cheer the order, and reports indicate that the ASI is is likely to set up a five-member team that will visit the campus soon, others are registering their protests. The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board has said that it will challenge the Varanasi court order, with Board chairman Zufar Faruqi citing the Places of Worship act.
Since then, many officials and activists and other well known personalities have weighed in on the debate, with diametrically opposite viewpoints being put forth. "This is totally against the Places of worship (special provisions Act) 1991 and mischievous. Must be immediately stayed by the HC," exclaimed activist and lawyer Prashant Bhushan.
"No act/law is above age old civilisational reality, traditions, culture and faith of a billion plus Indians," countered Major Surendra Poonia, citing the history behind the construction of the Gyanvapi mosque to underscore his point.
Take a look at some of the other reactions: