India's top Muslim leaders on Friday called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government to end the row over mosques and Hindu temples, saying the Muslim minority feels threatened and their places of worship must be protected.
In the latest controversial case, a court this week allowed Hindus to pray at a 17th-century mosque that Hindus say was built after a temple was destroyed.
Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani, general secretary of the All India Muslim Personal Law Authority (AIPLB), said, “Many people in the country claim that some historical mosques were built after destroying temples, but these allegations are false.”
“We urge the government to end such controversies and save the secular fabric of the country,” Rahmani told reporters, surrounded by Muslim leaders and other clerics.
He said the Muslim community feels “threatened and suffocated” in their country. The Interior Ministry did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
Critics accuse Modi and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party of pushing a Hindu agenda and promoting discrimination against Muslims, but he says his government is not doing so.
Hindu groups – including the ideology from which the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party emerged – say that many mosques in India were built over Hindu temples that were demolished during the era of the Mughal Empire.
In 1992, a Hindu mob demolished one of these mosques in the city of Ayodhya in the north of the country.
Fulfilling a decades-old pledge by the Bharatiya Janata Party after the Supreme Court ordered in 2019 that the site be handed over to Hindus, Modi opened a large temple there last January. The inauguration took place a few months before general elections scheduled for next May.
In a ruling issued this week regarding another mosque, the court said Hindus can pray at the Gyanvapi Mosque in the holy city of Varanasi, after Hindu groups said an archaeological survey had found evidence that the mosque was a destroyed one. over the temple, and Muslim leaders say they will appeal the order in a higher court.