BJP Govt Might Quash Shrines Protection Act, Warns Mani Shankar Aiyar

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The conference held on Ayodhya judgement at at India Habitat Centre in New Delhi was attended by activists, politicians, academicians and students. — Photo: Caravan Daily

The Congress leader likened the Ayodhya judgement to the verdict on Afzal Guru by the Supreme Court and said he did not think that evidence acted as the basis for the verdict.

Caravan News

NEW DELHI — Congress leader and former Union minister Mani Shankar Aiyar on Thursday warned that the right-wing BJP ruling India will have no qualms in quashing the 1991 Protection of Places of Worship Act.

He was speaking at a conference held on Ayodhya judgement at India Habitat Centre in New Delhi. The conference, attended by activists, academicians and students, discussed the larger implications of the Ayodhya verdict. “It took this government only an hour to tear down Article 370. So, what will prevent this government from repealing the Protection of Places of Worship Act 1991,” Aiyar asked.

The Congress leader likened the Ayodhya judgement to the verdict on Afzal Guru by the Supreme Court, and said he did not think that evidence acted as the basis for the verdict. Instead, the court thought Afzal Guru should hang to satisfy the collective conscience of the society.”

He said that it was quite clear that the Supreme Court has chosen to hold the goodness of Muslims against them. Muslims, he noted, allowed the Hindus in Ayodhya to use the space around the mosque for worship.

According to the 1991 Act, no place of worship will have a change in its character as it existed in August 1947. The act excluded Babri Masjid which was under dispute when it was passed.

The other speakers in the panel included Praveen Jain, Sanjay Hegde, Neera Chandok, Amar Farooqui. The panel moderated by journalist Seema Mustafa also discussed the theme, ‘After Ayodhya, The Indian Constitution, and Equality before law’. The conference was organised by the New Delhi based Centre for Policy Analysis.

Praveen Jain, a noted photojournalist, who was a witness to the demolition of Babri Masjid, recounted the events in Ayodhya around December 6, 1992 when Babri Masjid was demolished by a Hindu mob led by pro-Hindutva politicians like LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, and Umma Bharti. Jain said the demolition was a pre-planned exercise. “The Hindutva volunteers held a rehearsal on how to demolish the mosque in the days before the actual act of demolition.”

Lawyer Sanjay Hegde said the Supreme Court gave an award rather than a judgement. This is not what a court is designed for. “This is a reward for bad behavior. This verdict is rewarding a bully,” Hegde asserted.

Amar Farooqui highlighted the pluralistic governance and politics of the Nawabs who ruled Faizabad and the adjoining Ayodhya. “The emergence of Ayodhya as a pilgrimage centre owed a lot to Faizabad being the capital of Awadh. The judgement does not pay adequate attention to the events of the 18th Century.” Chandok discussed the importance of secularism and the need to safeguard it.

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