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Another Historic Mosque to be Replaced with a Temple by Modi Government

New Delhi: The administration of the Indian state of Maharashtra has succumbed to pressure from Hindutva extremist groups and sealed off a historic mosque where the extremist Hindutva community wishes to construct a temple. According to Kashmir Media Service, Hindutva extremist groups in India have claimed that the centuries-old mosque in the Erandol town in the Jalgaon district of Maharashtra was originally a temple that was converted into a mosque, and therefore, they intend to rebuild a temple at the site.

The fanatical Hindutva groups successfully pressured authorities to sell off the historic mosque, leading the mosque’s trustees to file a case in the Aurangabad High Court, in which the local government has been made a party. The case requests the court to order the reopening of the mosque and grant permission for worship.

This is a fundamental matter of religious freedom. While representing the mosque’s trustees, advocate Shahid Nadeem informed the court that the mosque is a registered waqf property and the collector does not have the authority to sell it. Advocate Shahid Nadeem further argued that matters pertaining to waqf properties should be resolved through the Waqf Tribunal. The mosque’s trustees’ lawyer submitted video and documentary evidence of the mosque being a waqf property to the court.

On the other hand, the Hindutva extremist group known as the Pandav Vara Sangharsh Samiti stated that the mosque was built by demolishing the structure of the Pandav Vara temple, making the land disputed, and demanded that the place be sealed until a decision is reached in the case. It should be noted that in May of the current year, the president of the Hindutva extremist organization Pramod Husada Dandavate, had lodged a complaint with the district magistrate, accusing the mosque’s trustees of illegally occupying their land. In response, the district collector Aman Mittal summoned all relevant parties, including the mosque’s trustees, the tehsildar (revenue officer), and a representative of the Archaeological Survey of India, to hear their arguments. After detailed discussions, the district collector, Aman Mittal, issued an order imposing restrictions on prayer in the mosque and enforced section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc) due to the sensitivity of the matter.

It should be noted that the Hindutva extremists with the backing of the Indian ruling party BJP have made it a routine of converting historic mosques into temples over dubious and false claims. During the Modi government’s tenure, religious freedoms have been undermined and space for minorities in India has shrunk. According to Professor  Audrey Truschke, a historian of South Asia and an associate professor at Rutgers University, “For Hindu nationalists, there is no place for Muslims in India’s future except as oppressed, second-class citizens whose rights are routinely denied”.