Sunni Waqf Board seeks implementation of Place of Worship Act amid calls to reclaim Kashi, Mathura


PTI, Oct 28, 2020, 3:07 PM IST

Ayodhya: Expressing concern over Kashi and Mathura temples being dragged into a legal dispute a year after the Supreme Court’s Ayodhya verdict, the Sunni Central Waqf Board has sought strict implementation of the Places of Worship Act.

The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 provides for maintaining the “religious character” of holy structures as it existed on August 15, 1947.

A plea filed by a Hindu organisation in June had challenged Section 4 of the law in a bid to open the litigation route to reclaim disputed religious sites other than the Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya.

The Vishwa Bhadra Pujari Purohit Mahasangh’s plea assumes significance in the case of Kashi and Mathura where two disputed mosques stand.

Chairman of Sunni Central Waqf Board, Zufar Farooqui, said, “The Places of Worship Act clearly prohibits the conversion of any place of worship and maintain its religious character as it existed on 15 August 1947.”

“The Supreme Court’s verdict which had cleared the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya where the demolished Babri Masjid once stood has also reiterated the places of worship act,” he added.

“The board will be dealing with the court cases but since the places of worship act in place, it must be implemented to stop such attacks on mosques in India,” he said.

After a protracted legal tussle, the Supreme Court, on November 9 last year, ruled in favour of the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya and directed the Centre to allot an alternative five-acre plot to the Sunni Waqf Board for building a new mosque at a “prominent” place in the holy town in Uttar Pradesh.

Farooqui, who is also the president of the Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation (IICF), a trust, for the construction of the mosque in Ayodhya, said the new structure will be bigger than the Babri masjid.

A museum, hospital and research centre which will also be built inside the complex.

“We are working on war footing to kick start the construction of the mosque and other facilities in Ayodhya. We are taking the advice of international experts to construct a world-class facility,” he said.

“The hospital of course will hold centre stage as it will serve humanity in the true spirit of Islam as taught by the prophet. It will be in sync with the architecture of the mosque, replete with calligraphy and Islamic symbols. It will house a 300-bed speciality unit, where doctors will work with missionary zeal to provide free treatment to the ailing,” he added.

The master plan will be designed to house an archive, museum and community kitchen in the mosque complex. The archive and museum will exhibit contribution of Muslims to nation-building, Indian culture and freedom struggle and of course Sufi saints who spread love and harmony, he said.

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