The legal battle over the Shahi Idgah mosque and the Krishna Janmabhoomi temple in Mathura has emerged as a politically sensitive religious dispute in Uttar Pradesh. For UPSC aspirants, analyzing such controversies and their historical basis is important from the perspective of polity and governance.
The Krishna Janmabhoomi is considered the birthplace of Lord Krishna and houses a temple complex dedicated to him. The Shahi Idgah mosque stands adjacent to it and is considered to have been built over the ruins of a temple demolished by Mughal ruler Aurangzeb.
Multiple lawsuits have been filed demanding the shifting of the mosque and excavation of the site to recover the ruins of the original Krishna temple. The petitioners argue that the present-day mosque encroaches upon 13.37 acres of the temple land.
In 2021, a Mathura court dismissed one such suit seeking the mosque’s removal. But the Allahabad High Court has now allowed a fresh petition demanding excavation, citing the uncovering of temple remnants during the Babri Masjid demolition.
The Waqf board controlling the mosque argues that no alteration can be made to a protected religious site per the 1991 Places of Worship Act. But petitioners claim the Act does not apply to the dispute.
The legal battle has reignited tensions between Hindu and Muslim groups in Mathura. There are fears of communal unrest if the disputes escalates akin to the Ayodhya issue. Moreover, it challenges the applicability of the Places of Worship Act that aims to uphold secularism.
For UPSC preparation, evaluating the historical merits and legal technicalities entangled in such disputes is important. It enables a balanced understanding of sensitive religious issues that have bearing on India’s politics and society.