P Chidambaram cautions on religious places: ‘Status quo should be maintained or else…’
No attempt should be made to change the status of any place of worship as doing so would lead to a ‘huge conflict’, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said on Saturday, on a day when a court-ordered videography survey was carried out inside the Kashi Vishwanath temple-Gyanvapi mosque complex in Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi.
“We believe that all other places should remain in the status they are and they were. We should not try to change the status of any place of worship, as that will only lead to a huge conflict, and, it is to avoid such a conflict that the Narasimha Rao government passed the Places of Worship Act,” Chidambaram told reporters in Udaipur, where the grand hold party is holding a ‘Chintan Shivir’.
The ’other’ in the former Union home and finance minister’s statement refers to the fact that the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act--passed in September 1991 by then-prime minister PV Narasimha Rao’s government--does not apply to the Ram Janmabhoomi in UP’s Ayodhya, which is the only religious site to be exempted from the legislation’s purview.
The act seeks to “prohibit conversion of any place of worship and to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August, 1947, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”.
In recent days, the legislation has been repeatedly cited by AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi to object to a Varanasi civil court order calling for videography inside the Gyanvapi mosque. According to the Hyderabad MP, the order is a ‘blatant violation’ of the Places of Worship Act.
(With PTI inputs)