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Sunni Waqf Board to defend Kashi, Mathura, will challenge plea against Places of Worship Act | India News – Times of India

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AYODHYA: The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board has vowed to defend the provisions of Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, within the legal framework, a day after the Supreme Court asked the Centre to respond to a PIL challenging the law which prohibits reclaiming of disputed shrines.
The Sunni Board, which controls 1.3lakh mosques and mausoleums in Uttar Pradesh has been dragged into legal battles over Kashi’s Gyanvapi masjid and Shahi Eidgah mosque in Mathura, just months after the November 2019 Ayodhya verdict. On Saturday, the Board decided to back the Mosque Committee of Tile Wali Masjid, Lucknow, to move the Supreme Court against the petition.
Talking to TOI, Sunni Waqf Board chairman Zufar Farooqui termed the petition filed by BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay as a direct challenge to Supreme Court’s Ayodhya verdict that upheld the Places of Worship Act while stating it provides confidence to every religious community that their places of worship will be preserved and their character won’t be altered as they existed on August 15, 1947.
“The petitioner has in fact challenged the Ayodhya verdict. We are ready to fight and legally defend the Act, which upholds secularism that forms the basic framework of the Constitution. We won’t allow any move to alter the status of any mosque, including those in Kashi and Mathura,” Farooqui told TOI.
The Places of Worship Act, which was enacted at the peak of the Ram Mandir movement, a year before the demolition of the Babri mosque, had sought to maintain the “religious character” of places of worship except in the case of Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute.
Raising questions over the petition in Supreme Court, Athar Hussain, secretary of Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation, said, “Now Hindutva forces are coming out openly against Ayodhya judgment by challenging the constitutional validity of Places of Worship Act, 1991. Muslim hardliners too were vociferously against the verdict. Did they have an understanding with Hindu hardliners on this,” he asked.
Talking to TOI, national spokesperson of Vishwa Hindu Parishad Vinod Bansal said, “Kashi and Mathura are not on our immediate agenda. Our focus is on the Ram temple at Ayodhya. The petitioner has filed the PIL in his personal capacity. Reclaiming shrines is not our aim, but we believe symbols of slavery should be erased.”



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