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Krishna Janmabhoomi: Mathura Court Restores Suit Demanding Removal of Shahi Idgah

Plaintiffs had sought that the entire land be returned by mosque authorities to the temple trust; a lower court had dismissed the plea

In fresh developments in the Krishna Janmabhoomi case, the court of Mathura District and Sessions Judge Rajeev Bharati has restored a petitionpertaining to the Shahi Idgah located next to the Katra Keshav Dev temple. The court had heard both parties, and reserved its order on May 7. This means the petition can now be heard by a court.

NDTV quoted Gopal Khandelwal, the lawyer of the petitioners as saying, “As worshippers of Lord Krishna we have the right to file a suit demanding restoration of his property. The mosque was wrongly built on Krishna Janmabhoomi. There was a compromise several years ago on the sharing of property, but that compromise was illegal.”

About the petition

In their civil suit filed in September 2020, the petitioners i.e the deity Baghwan Sri Krishna Virajman through next friend Ranjana Agnihotri, Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi (birthplace of the deity) and devotees, have claimed, “This suit is being filed for removal of encroachment and superstructure illegally raised by Committee of Management of alleged Trust Masjid Idgah with the consent of Sunni Central Board of Waqf on land Khewat No.255 (Two Hundred Fifty Five) at Katra Keshav Dev city Mathura belonging to deity Shree Krishna Virajman.”  

Explaining the rationale behind the suit, the plaintiffs have stated, “The present suit is being filed by and on behalf of deity Plaintiff Nos.1 (One) and 2 (Two) alongwith devotees to ensure that Dharshan, Pooja, rituals according to Vedic Sanatan Dharma, faith, belief, usages, traditions and customs guaranteed under Article 25 (Twenty Five) of the Constitution of India are performed at the actual birth place and at any part of 13.37 (Thirteen Point Thirty Seven) Acers land of Katra Keshav Dev the Sunni Waqf Board, Trust Masjid Idgah and their men, workers, attorneys and every person working under them are restrained from entering into the premises of the property in question and they be directed to remove the construction illegally raised by them without authority of law at the property in question.”

The primary contention was that the Krishna Janmasthan Seva Sangh that looked after the Katra Keshav Dev temple property had allegedly entered into an illegal compromise with the Committee of Management of Trust Masjid Idgah in 1968 by way of which a huge chunk of land was given to the Idgah including the spot where the deity was born. The plaintiffs had submitted, “The original karagar i.e birthplace of Lord Krishna lies beneath the construction raised by Committee of Management i.e Trust Masjid Idgah.” It insisted that the truth would be revealed if an excavation were to be conducted.

Communally charged language

The language of the petition itself was deeply communal, as at one point it said, “Under Hindu Law prevalent in India from thousands of years it is well recognized that the property once vested in the deity shall continue to be the deity’s property and property vested in the deity is never destroyed or lost and it can be regained and re-established whenever it is freed, found or recovered from the clutches of invaders, ultras or hoodlums. The Privy Council, High Courts and the Hon’ble Supreme Court in catena of decisions have endorsed the above proposition of law.”

It further says that “it is matter of fact and history that Aurangzeb ruled over the country from 31.07.1658 (Thirty One Seven Sixteen Fifty Eight) to 3.03.1707 (Three Three Seventeen Zero Seven) AD and he being staunch follower of Islam had issued orders for demolition of large number of Hindu religious places and temples including the temple standing at the birth place of Lord Shree Krishna at Katra Keshav Dev, Mathura in the year 1669-70 (Sixteen Sixty Nine- Seventy) AD. The army of Aurangzeb partly succeeded to demolish Keshav Dev Temple and a construction was forcibly raised showing the might of power and said construction was named as Idgah Mosque.” It then goes on to quote an official order by Aurangzeb himself.

Lower court dismisses plea, petitioners appeal against order

On September 30, 2020, a civil court in Mathura dismissed the petition to remove the Shahi Idgah adjacent to a Krishna temple in the city. Civil Judge (Senior Division) Chhaya Sharma refused to entertain the plea citing section 4 of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991. Section 4 (1) of this Act says, “It is hereby declared that the religious character of a place of worship existing on the 15th day of August, 1947 shall continue to be the same as it existed on that day.”

However, the plaintiffs moved the district court against this on October 12 citing Article 25 of the Constitution that deals with “Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion” and says, “Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.”

The Appellants submitted, “It is the right and duty of worshipers to make every endeavour to bring back the lost property of the deity and to take every step for the safety and proper management of the temple and the deity’s property.”

The Petitioners have sought ownership of the entire property spread across 13.37 acres, and cancellation of the agreement that led to the transfer of land in 1968.

Meanwhile, the Sunni Waqf Board and the Shahi Idgah committee argued that the petitioner was neither an office bearer of the Temple trust, nor a descendent of the Krishna Janmasthan.

After arguments from both sides concluded, the court reserved its order that was passed today. This story will be updated with the order copy once it becomes available.

The Krishna Janmabhoomi movement

After the Supreme Court judgement in the Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi case, the Krishna Janmabhoomi movement has been gathering steam as well. As we have reported previously, an organisation called Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi Nirman Nyas was registered on July 23, 2020. It reportedly has 80 ‘saints’ from 14 states as its members. In August 2020, the Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi Trust had already started laying claim to the four-and-a-half-acre land next to the mosque to use as a Ranga Manch (variety hall) for religious and cultural functions organised by the trust and temple authorities. 

Then in September, 2020, 22 members of the Hindu Army, a right-wing group, were arrested for giving a call for ‘Krishna Janmabhoomi’ movement in Mathura.

Other related developments

Within hours of the discovery of a “Shivling” at the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi and subsequent orders to seal the area, two advocates have moved a Mathura court seeking directions to seal the Shahi Idgah mosque that is located next to the Katra Keshav Dev temple in the city. The petitioners, advocates Mahendra Pratap Singh and Rajendra Maheshwari, in their application before the court of Civil Judge (Senior Division), Mathura, claim that this is necessary to ensure that the religious character of the place remains unchanged.

They have also asked that the deployment of security personnel at the mosque be stepped up to prevent any movement. The applicants have sought directions to the District Magistrate as well as the Superintendent of Police, along with the CRPF Commandment, to seal the premises and preserve the Hindu religious symbols such as Swastika, lotus flower, Kalash etc.

It is noteworthy that Advocate Mahendra Pratap Singh, who heads the Krishna Janmabhoomi Mukti Andolan Samiti (KJMAS) and is also the president of Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi Mukti Nyas, had on November 23, 2021, moved an application before the District Magistrate of Mathura demanding that namaaz be stopped at the Shahi Idgah that is located adjacent to a Krishna Temple.

The latest application filed on Tuesday, May 17, refers to the discovery of a “Shivling” at the Wazu Khana of the Gyanvapi Mosque. He prays that the Shahi Idgah mosque needs to be sealed immediately to prevent other parties from destroying evidence of the presence of Hindu religious symbols there.

Meanwhile, on the same day, another application was filed before the court of Additional Sessions Judge Sanjay Chaudhary, by next friends of the deity and devotees, appealing for permission to be granted to Hindus to conduct “darshan, pooja and other rituals” at the mosque site in accordance with Vedic Sanatan Dharma.

Courtesy: Sabrang India

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