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Krishna Janmabhoomi dispute: Civil court in Mathura to start hearing today

At least eight cases related to the Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi dispute will be heard in a civil court in Mathura on July 1 (Friday), when courts reopen after the summer vacation. Sensitive applications, including one seeking a survey and videography at Shahi Eidgah Masjid, next to the temple, are among those listed.

The suits have been filed on behalf of the deity (Lord Krishna), seeking removal of the Shahi Eidgah (mosque), adjacent to the Krishna temple complex in Mathura, and seeking the transfer of the 13.37 acres of land on which the mosque stands, to the deity.

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The applications moved in May seek the appointment of an advocate commissioner for survey, photography and videography within the Shahi Eidgah mosque, the sealing of the mosque premises, enhancement of security, and “purification” of the mosque premises (claimed as the original birth place of Lord Krishna). Indeed, many of the petitions claim that the actual birthplace of Lord Krishna (Garbh Grah) is within the walls of the present-day structure of Shahi Eidgah, and there are marks and symbols, proving that it was a Hindu temple in the past.

The legal battle is similar to the one going on regarding the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi.

The petitioners have also claimed that there is material evidence within Shahi Eidgah that they allege Muslim parties could damage, remove or conceal.

Among the petitions coming up for hearing is the oldest in the current bunch of cases, filed by Ranjana Agnihotri and others on September 25, 2020. It was dismissed on September 30, 2020. The case was revived on May 19 this year and is now to be taken up in the court of civil judge (senior division) on Friday.

Mahendra Pratap Singh, one of the litigants and a lawyer in Mathura court, is set for the hearing.

“Our pending applications to be taken up on Friday include the one for the appointment of court commission, which should visit Shahi Eidgah mosque and conduct videography and photography. We have also sought scientific excavations by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), maintaining of status quo and appointment of receiver for Shahi Eidgah mosque through different applications to be heard on July 1,” stated Singh.

Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha national treasurer Dinesh Sharma, Hindu Army chief Manish Yadav, Jitendra Singh Bishen, Anil Kumar Tripathi, Pawan Kumar Shastri, Gopal Giri and Pankaj Singh, are the other petitioners in these cases.

Tanveer Ahmed, lawyer and secretary for the management committee of Shahi Eidgah mosque, is also set for the day and does not seem worried about the number of applications to be taken up in different cases.

“Most of the applications were filed without providing us the copy as required by law. The applications will be suitably replied to and contested,” he stated.

Since September 2020, a dozen cases have been filed in Mathura courts in connection with the Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi-Shahi Eidgah dispute. The UP Sunni Central Waqf Board, management committee of Shahi Eidgah mosque, Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi Trust and Sri Krishna Janamsthan Seva Sansthan are parties in most of these cases.

The petitioners in the cases have challenged the settlement (dated October 12, 1968) between the Sri Krishna Janmasthan Seva Sangh and Shahi Masjid Eidgah, which was part of suit no. 43 of 1967. They alleged that the settlement had no legal validity because the Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi Trust, having ownership and title, was not party to it and sought an order on transfer of the Eidgah mosque land to the deity.

The petitioners in these cases alleged that the Shahi Eidgah mosque was built on the same spot where a temple was razed by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in the 17th century.

However, the management committee of Shahi Eidgah mosque objected to the petitions, claiming they were filed after a long delay as the settlement was in 1968 while the judgment and decree in case no. 43 of 1967 were passed in 1974. The management committee of the mosque has challenged the maintainability of these suits and prayed for their dismissal under Order 7 Rule 11 of the Civil Procedure Code.

The Muslim side challenged the maintainability of the ongoing suit on the plea based on the provisions of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, which provides for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on August 15, 1947.

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