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Hindu Press International
Gyanvapi Masjid Stringently Guarded
on 2000/12/11 22:49:02 ( 924 reads )


Source: India Today, December 9, 2000





BANARAS, INDIA: It was the early morning of December 6 when journalist Priya Solomon tried to photograph the ancient 16th century Gyanvapi Masjid, standing in the premises of the Baba Vishwanath Mandir in Banaras, a policeman prevented her from doing so. Her initial irritation vanished when realization dawned that the restrictions were meant to protect the location and to avert a situation like the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid, as speculation has it that the Gyanvapi mosque is one of two other targets (the other is in Mathura) the Sangh Parivar would like to see obliterated. Prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's statements supporting the construction of a Ram Temple in Ayodhya has given impetus to the Kashi Vishwanath Mandir movement in India's holy city. One may ask "Why Gyanvapi?" According to Hindu organizations, the original Siva Lingam is inside the Gyanvapi Masjid, and since the Masjid is not being used for worship, it should be handed over to them. The Masjid is built upon the site of the ancient Kasi Vishwanath Siva Temple; its lower walls in fact can be clearly identified as the original walls of the temple, which is one reason police try to prevent the photographs. Unlike Ayodhya, there is no dispute at all that the Masjid was built upon the temple foundation. The Masjid is under 24-hour vigil throughout the year by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), security is further beefed up every year on December 6, the date of the Babri Masjid demolition. The nature of this town by the Ganges is volatile and vulnerable to religious tension with its 40:60 Muslim-Hindu ratio. "It is a religious town and people of this city are very sensitive," says Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith vice-chancellor R.J. Singh.




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