On Monday, the court closed large Muslim prayer rallies in one of India’s highest mosques, after a probationary group found the Hindu deity Shiva and other Hindu symbols there, a lawyer involved in the case said.
A judge in the Varanasi court – the largest Hindu city and site of the historic Gyanvapi mosque – ruled that Muslim gatherings should be reserved for 20 people, attorney HS Jain said.
The court ordered the mosque to be inspected after five women – represented by Jain – asked permission to perform Hindu rituals in one place, claiming that a Hindu temple once stood on the site.
The Gyanvapi mosque, located on the site of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is one of many northern mosques in Uttar Pradesh that believe that Hindu hardliners – like other places of worship – are built on top of demolished Hindu temples.
Police say the court order will help maintain law and order at a time when Hindu groups clinging to the Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have stepped up their digging claims within other mosques and allowed searches at the Taj Mahal mausoleum.
India’s 200 million Muslim leaders view such actions as an attempt to undermine their religious freedom and freedom of expression, through the BJP.
Uttar Pradesh Deputy Prime Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, a member of the BJP, told Reuters‘a local television partner ANI that the government has accepted the court order “and we will implement it”.
In 2019, the Supreme Court allowed Hindus to build a temple on the 16th-century Babri mosque, which was demolished by a Hindu mob in 1992 who believed it had been built on the site of the birth of the Hindu Lord Ram.
The incident led to a religious upheaval that killed about 2,000 people, most of them Muslims, throughout India.