The Places of Worship Act, 1991 is by far the most bogus, discriminatory and unjust legislation that has even been passed by the Parliament of India. It is this Act that deprives Hindus of their right to reclaim their heritage, which lies submerged and subjugated under illegal structures that Islamist marauders erected all over India. The Places of Worship Act seeks to “maintain the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August, 1947.” Section 4 (1) of the Act expressly provides, “It is hereby declared that the religious character of a place of worship existing on the 15th August 1947 shall continue to be the same as it existed on that day.”
Although the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute had been exempted from the provisions of this Act, the legislation effectively acts as a bar upon the determination of all other such disputes across the country. Essentially, the road to justice for Hindu temples languishing under illegal masjids was closed.
Why the Act Must be Repealed – It’s Anti-Hindu
While the Act ostensibly gives an equal status to all religious communities, the fact remains that the Act has the most adverse impact on Hindus’ places of worship. A majority of the “places of worship” falling within the purview of this Act are Hindu temples.
The Islamic invasions witnessed several prominent temples being destroyed and converted into Mosques, such as the Kashi Vishwanath in Varanasi which was converted into the Gyanvapi Mosque, the Krishna temple in Mathura that was converted into Idgah Mosque, the Adinath temple in Malda which was converted into Adina Mosque, the Kali temple in Srinagar that was converted into Khanqah-e-Moula and the list goes on endlessly.
Not only is this unfair, but is also unconstitutional. The Act prohibits Hindus from judicial recourse – a facet fundamental to Indian democracy.
Would any other community in India tolerate their site of worship being infringed upon by Islamic structures that were erected by invading forces as a symbol of their supremacy over the faith of Indic culture? Would Sikhs allow a Masjid to stand atop a Gurudwara? Would Christians, for that matter, tolerate a mosque being built over a church after the latter gets ruthlessly razed to the ground?
How would other communities react if symbols of their faith were preserved within mosques only to be disrespected on a daily basis, as the holy Shivling has been within the Gyanvapi Masjid?
Onus on Modi Government
The time to get rid of the Places of Worship Act (1991) is now, or the opportunity might vanish forever. This is the best time to repeal this insulting anti-Hindu legislation. Soon, the BJP will emerge as the strongest player in the Rajya Sabha, by perhaps getting the greatest number of MPs in the upper house than it has ever before. BJP already dominates the Lok Sabha with a thumping majority.
This is the time to overturn the Places of Worship Act and pave the way for Hindu temples to be reclaimed across the country. Hindus are not infringing on the rights of anybody. They are merely demanding what has always been theirs, rightfully so.
Loopholes in the Places of Worship Act
In the unfortunate event that the BJP does not repeal the Places of Worship Act, the Modi government must at least take the onus of declaring major Hindu temples and structures, that have been illegally occupied by Islamic structures, to be “ancient monuments”.
All ancient monuments that have been declared under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 are exempted from the Places of Worship Act, 1991.
For example, the shivling that has been found at the Gyanvapi Masjid – if found to be more than 100 years old – which it most definitely is, will lead to the mosque being declared an ancient monument. As such, Gyanvapi will lose its protection under the Places of Worship Act, and the road to Hindus legally reclaiming the site and building a grand temple around it would become much easier.
It is imperative to mention here that the Narsimha Rao government had brought this legislation when the Ram Janmabhoomi movement was at its peak. By bringing this law, the government of that time effectively killed all demands in respect of Hindu temples beyond Ayodhya even before such demands arose in a big way. So, Hindus were told to fight for Ram Janmabhoomi, and then retire to a corner and sulk there forever in memory of the many temples that they could not reclaim and restore to glory.
The Places of Worship Act is a manifestation of decades of political hatred that Hindus have been subjected to. Now is the time to do away with it, or at least, make the Act ineffective.