In a historic decision, the Varanasi Court has granted rights to Hindus to offer puja at the Gyanvapi basement, i.e. ‘Vyas Ji Ka Tehkhana.’ Recent developments in the Gyanvapi case include findings from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which revealed the existence of a “large Hindu Mandir” before the construction of the current Gyanvapi structure. In an exclusive interview with Organiser Special Correspondent Nishant Kumar Azad, senior advocate Hari Shankar Jain, representing the Hindu side in the Gyanvapi case, expressed confidence over their position, stating, “We are on the verge of winning the case.” Jain emphasised that the actions of Islamic rulers towards Hindu Mandirs were driven by the “Might of Islam,” with their intention not to construct an Islamic structure but to show the dominance of Islam and demean Hindus. Excerpts:
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) recently issued its survey report on the Gyanvapi controversy. Could you please elaborate on its significance for our readers?
This report is basically a scientific survey of the disputed structure, and such a surveying and mapping exercise is one of the key mandates of ASI. The recent survey includes the fundamentals, such as the periodisation of the structure, base, walls, pillars, artefacts, and other nitty-gritties. The key findings include the western wall of the structure, which is the wall of an ancient Mandir, desecrated by Islamic invaders on several occasions, lastly in 1669 AD. However, the western wall claimed to be of the Gupta period was so strong that it sustained a millennium of destruction, and today the dome of the disputed structure has been built on the same wall. Even many pillars of the Mandir have survived. More than 300 artefacts have been found, including murtis of Vishnuji, Hanumanji, and others with inscription of Sanskrit shlokas. Inscriptions in Telugu and Tamil have also been discovered. An inscription dated 1674 AD has been found, which declares that Aurangzeb built this structure. In fact, these findings contradict the Muslim claim that the disputed structure was used for namaz for a long time. Aurangzeb’s decree makes it clear that the Mandir was destroyed in 1669-70. These scientific findings are a great blow to those lies which claimed that the structure was a masjid for a long time.
Now that the ASI report is in the public domain, what is the potential next step from your side?
This case has many sides, and the law will take its due course. The report is out now, but the opposite party will claim that it is flawed. Then, the experts who have authored and submitted the report will be called by the court as witnesses, and they will testify. Let me add that the panel that has prepared the report also includes two Muslims. After examining all the evidence and witnesses, the court will decide. But let me assure you, in light of the evidence, we are heading towards a victory!
ASI findings contradict the Muslim claim that the disputed structure was used for namaz for a long time. Aurangzeb’s decree makes it clear that the Mandir was destroyed in 1669-70. These scientific findings are a great blow to those lies which claimed that the structure was a masjid for a long time
But the Muslim side has almost rejected the ASI report. Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee Joint Secretary SM Yasin has gone on record to claim that the report is an attempt to weave a ‘false narrative.’
Many in the community have been used to lying and making every issue unnecessarily controversial. We have no issue with Muslims today, but if Aurangzeb desecrated the ancient Mandir in the past, why are they siding with that tyrant? They are not the successors of Aurangzeb. I fail to understand how many in the community have been indoctrinated to side with violent invaders of the past, and they fail to respect the ideals of our democratic country. The history of violent vandalism of Mandirs in the last seven hundred years is against humanity and every religion that believes in the harmonious coexistence of human beings. From today’s perspective, what happened to Mandirs was a “War Crime”. After 1947, successive Congress Governments did their best to hide these many instances of historical injustices only to defend their ill-motivated secularism. It seems to take a cue from Congress-kind politics; the community first declares that if it is proved that the masjid was built desecrating a Mandir, we will leave the claim. But when it is scientifically proven, they turn back on their promise. But this modus operandi has been identified now, and the people of Bharat cannot be fooled anymore.
I do not support this trend of alternate land allocation. A community that has committed so many historical injustices to Hindus in their own home cannot be rewarded for the same. It is like someone encroaches on your house, and when, after a long legal battle they are rightfully thrown out, you offer them a plot for resettlement. I have always protested such moves
After the ASI report became public, Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) International Working President Alok Kumar appealed to Muslims that they should hand over Gyanvapi to Hindus. How do you view this appeal?
Appeals in the spirit of harmony are fine, but based on historical experience, let me assure you that they are unpragmatic. Remember, Bhagwan Ram also kept pleading with the ocean to make a passage for his Sena, but only when he took an aggressive stance did the ocean concede. Therefore, we need to take these developments as a “battle cry”, be it legal, parliamentary, and what not. These issues should be resolved substantially, and not by giving and taking something on word.
Recently, we have seen a trend where the other side is usually offered a plot of land for building a masjid after the court’s decision. Be it the Ram Janmabhoomi case or the Allahabad High Court land issue, where Waqf constructed a masjid on the court’s land. In the Ram Mandir case, Muslims were given five-acre alternate land; in the Allahabad High Court case, the Supreme Court gave alternate land to the Muslim side. Do you anticipate something similar in the Gyanvapi case too? How do you perceive the concept of alternate land allocation?
I do not support this trend. A community that has committed so many historical injustices to Hindus in their own home cannot be rewarded for the same. It is like someone encroaches on your house, and when, after a long legal battle, they are rightfully thrown out, you offer them a plot for resettlement. I have always protested such moves. The issue is simple—when the claim is that you cannot build a masjid after vandalising a Mandir, then what is the claim of namaz there? I think the Parliament should pass legislation on the issue of ownership of Mandir land, and others who have encroached on it should not be compensated in any form.
The survey was limited and constrained. It didn’t say much about the claims of the sealed area ‘Shivling’, which the Muslim side claimed as ‘Wazukhana’, nor was it allowed to excavate in the structure. When will this survey be done in the sealed area?
I have already filed a petition in the Supreme Court for allowing such a survey. We are hopeful that when such a survey is conducted, we will find out that Shivling is much grander than it seems now.
Could you explain Deen Mohammad’s case and Waqf’s claims regarding the disputed Gyanvapi structure?
Deen Mohammad’s case is a misnomer. It was not a Muslim vs Hindu issue; it was Muslim vs Government of Bharat. That judgement does not apply to either the Deity or the Hindus. What is the claim of the other party and Waqf when there is no Waqfnama for the disputed structure? It was never dedicated to Allah! The disputed structure is not a masjid. It is just a structure built on the ruins of a Mandir to impose the ‘Might of Islam.’ Many such instances of the demolition of temples by Islamic invaders and the subsequent erection of a structure in their place occurred across Bharat. Quwwat-ul-Islam structure in the Qutub Minar complex is a case in point. Most Islamic invaders, be it Ghori or Akbar, have all followed the same policy of vandalism and violence against others. What happened in Kashmir in 1990, where mandirs were destroyed, was also the act of the same mindset, i.e. Might of Islam. Historian Irfan Habib has conceded that Shri Kashi Vishwanath Mandir was destroyed; contemporary chronicles and farmans confirm it but the community never believes in any evidence.
Parliament of Bharat should pass legislation on the issue of ownership of Mandir land and others who have encroached on it should not be compensated in any form
Be it Ayodhya, Kashi or Mathura, it is claimed that the previous Governments never did anything to resolve these issues; rather, they only complicated them. How do you assess the role of the then Mulayam Singh Government, which ordered iron fencing outside the disputed structure?
Let me be very frank in saying that Hindus have always been ill-treated by Hindu politicians, more than any Muslim could have done. Till 1993, Hindus used to worship at the site and even the Tehkhana was open. There were deities of Hanumanji, Ganeshji, Maa Shringar Gauri, Vyasji, Tarkeshwar, and Markeshwar; all were there. But after the Ayodhya incident, when Mulayam Singh again came to power, he marshalled his Government to barricade and fence the site. And after that, puja and other rituals were stopped there. Even in the Deen Mohammad case, the Government of India presented 12 witnesses to say that the site is a Hindu Mandir and all the witnesses declared that they were performing puja and other rituals there. I filed a petition for ‘Vyasji ka Tehkhana’ on January 17, and on January 31, the court allowed Hindus to perform puja and rituals there.
What challenges did you encounter during the legal battle for this case, both on the professional and personal front?
The challenges were both internal and external. It is more difficult to deal with challenges from within. I don’t wish to disclose many issues right now, but let me reaffirm that ever since Baba Bholenath appeared there on May 16, I am only committed to ensuring victory in this case. I don’t care about anything else.
You have criticised the Waqf Act in various interviews, alleging it as fraudulent and citing the expansion of powers to the Waqf board by successive Congress Governments. Can you elaborate on the Act and shed light on the Waqf tribunal and its structure?
This is not an allegation. It is the truth and is based on facts. These facts are on record. The law for Waqf is so impenetrable that if the community even imagines that a plot of land was with Waqf, then without any sunwai, vakeel, or daleel, the property is captured by them. They were excused from the law of limitation. This has been a failure of previous governments.
What amendments do you propose for the Waqf Act to address its perceived flaws and ensure fairness?
The Waqf Act was passed in 1923, and it didn’t contain such features, which has made it impenetrable today. I ask, why not have such regulations for other religions as well? Such special treatment of any sect or religion should be abolished to form a common law, a common standing for everybody.
You mentioned common ground in law. How do you view the recent move of the Uttarakhand Government, which is going to implement a Common Civil Code in the State?
Well, that move is unhelpful in cases like the Waqf board. The problem won’t get solved. Moreover, how effective any Uniform Civil Code will be if we fail to regulate the population explosion by a few communities, if population growth isn’t checked, nothing will change.
Quench for legal justice will continue till we reclaim each and every temple that was snatched by Islamic Invaders
The legal battle for Ram Lalla went on for seven decades. Will the legal battle for Kashi and Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi also meet the same fate? Have we learnt any lessons from the case of Shri Ram Mandir in Ayodhya?
See, I have been fortunate that I was involved in the legal battle for Ram Lalla since 1989. It was a great learning experience. For me, the Gyanvapi case is not just the karma of a lawyer. Internally, I am also a petitioner from my Hindu conscience. No lawyer can give you a timeline with surety but as a Hindu, I assure you that by 2029, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will perform Pran Pratistha in Kashi and Mathura.
Apart from Kashi and Mathura, you are also active in the battle of many other temples. Give us an estimate of your work and how you proceed.
I have an efficient team dedicated to one cause—we wish Bharat to become a Hindu Rashtra! For this, our priority is that whichever Mandir was snatched from Hindus should be reclaimed. We are fighting legal battles for Mandirs in Lucknow, Delhi, Dhar, and other places. We will not sit and rest until our goal is achieved.