Status of places of worship mustn’t change: Congress

Udaipur : Congress leaders on Saturday said there should not be any change in the status of places of worship, as per an Act passed by the PV Narasimha Rao government in 1991. Former Union Minister P Chidambaram said the party believed that status of places of worship should not be changed. “The Places of Worship Act was passed after deep consideration under the PV Narasimha Rao government, the only exception in that act was the Ram Janmabhoomi case. “We believe all other places of worship should remain in the status they are and they were,” Chidambaram said. “We should not make any attempt to change any places of worship. That will only lead to huge conflict, and it is to avoid such conflict that the Narasimha Rao government brought The Places of Worship Act,” he said. Former union minister Salman Khurshid said the Act was a conscious effort to bring a closure, and the Ayodhya site was the only one kept out of it. This (The Places of Worship Act) was a categorical position we took… It is law of the land, it has been approved by the Supreme Court in the Aypdhya judgment as well there is no reason for departure from it. This was very consciously done keeping Ayodhya out of that legislation,” Khurshid said. “We had brought this legislation for closure, we would not want the closure we had hoped for, worked for and prayed for… we would not want that closure to be disturbed. Whatever has to be done by legal remedy will be done,” he said. The Places of Worship Act, 1991, seeks to maintain and protect the religious character of places of worship in India. As per the Act, “No person shall convert any place of worship of any religious denomination or any section thereof into a place of worship of a different section of the same religious denomination or of a different religious denomination or any section thereof.” The statement comes amid an ongoing controversy around the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi, after a petition was filed by five Hindu plaintiffs claiming the presence of a Hindu site Maa Shringar Gauri which they claimed is located outside the western wall of the mosque, and demanded permission to worship it. A Varanasi district court has ordered an advocate commissioner to conduct a video survey at the Gyanvapi mosque near the famed Kashi Vishwanath temple. Anjuman Intezamia Masajid, the Gyanvapi Masjid committee has opposed the survey. The survey was underway on Saturday, after a protracted one in the first week of the month amid court hearings. Another controversy triggered in Delhi, with some Hindu groups demanding to be allowed to worship the idols in the Qutub Minar Complex. Congress is holding its Nav Sankalp Shivir that will ponder on the “unabated attack on the secular fabric” of the country, party president Sonia Gandhi said at the inauguration of Chintan Shivir on Friday, adding that she was being used to keep the nation in a constant state of frenzy harming its economic development.

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