JIH voices concern over developments related to Gyanvapi Masjid, demands adherence to Places of Worship Act

New Delhi: Today, a monthly press conference was held at the headquarters of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind in Delhi in which the country’s burning issues, especially Gyanvapi Masjid, Interim Union Budget, Broadcasting Bill, Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza were discussed. . This conference was addressed by Vice Presidents of Jamaat Islami Hind – Malik Moatasim Khan, and Professor Mohammad Salim Engineer along with KK Suhail, Secretary of JIH Media Department.

Presenting the Jamaat’s stand on Gyanvapi Masjid, Vice President Malik Moatasim Khan said:
“Jamaat-e-Islami Hind strongly condemns the collusion of the Varanasi District Administration and the plaintiff (from the Hindu side) which facilitated pooja in the early hours immediately by cutting iron walls and placing idols on the lower floor of Gyanvapi Masjid. Although the Varanasi District Court had given 7 days to the administration for this work, it appears that the Varanasi District Administration was in a hurry to help the plaintiff to start pooja before the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee appeals to the higher judiciary to get relief on a shocking judgment that is violative of the law (Places of Worship Act 1991). JIH feels that the decision Varanasi District Court was given based on a completely erroneous argument that pooja was conducted in the basement of Gyanvapi Masjid till 1993 and it was stopped only on the orders of the then state government. The fact of the matter is that no pooja was ever held in the basement and there is no evidence for the same. Similarly, a section of the media has unilaterally published the report of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) claiming the presence of a pre-existing Mandir within the Masjid. Presently, the status of this ASI report is nothing more than a claim. Jamaat-e-Islami denounces these unprecedented events in Varanasi as they are bound to embolden those who are making baseless claims over the Shahi Idgah of Mathura, Sunehri Masjid Dellhi and many other mosques and Waqf properties across the country.
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind also condemns the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) for carrying out an arbitrary demolition of a 600-year-old mosque on Tuesday in Mehrauli. The Akhonji Masjid, which housed Madrasa Bahrul Uloom and the graves of revered figures, was completely razed to the ground and even the debris was meticulously removed to conceal the demolition from the public eye. The officials supervising the demolition vandalized the possession of the students studying at the Madrasa.
In any democratic system, the judiciary is the last resort of the oppressed and aggrieved. But if the courts too start to become biased and prejudiced, then who will ensure justice? The High Court must reverse these acts of desperation to gain illegitimate ascendancy over the Masjid. JIH emphasizes the need to abide by the “Places of Worship Act 1991.” The Act provides a guarantee for the preservation of the religious character of places of public worship as they existed on August 15, 1947. The Government of India must come out emphatically in support of the Act and declare that they would adhere to it in letter and spirit. The courts must become the vanguard of this Act.
Staking claim to the places of worship belonging to other religious communities based on “aastha” or the alleged presence of another pre-existing religious structure will open Pandora’s box of claims and counter-claims. It will lead to chaos and anarchy. Jamaat-e-Islami Hind appeals to the people of India to stop these attempts to reverse history and defeat those raking up of emotional issues for doing vote-bank politics.”

Speaking on the Interim Union Budget, Vice President of Jamaat Islami Hind, Professor Mohammad Salim Engineer said: “Jamaat-e-Islami Hind expresses concern over the continued neglect of the social sector in the interim Union Budget for 2024-25 of the current government. According to the National Health Policy, 2017, India needs to increase its budget for health every year so as to meet the target of spending 2.5% of the GDP on health by the year 2025. However, if we take into account inflation then in fact the budget allocation for the department of health and family welfare has declined for the FY 2024-25 as compared to FY 2023-24 budget estimates. Against the allocation of Rs 86,175 crores (according to budget estimates) for FY 2023-24, the allocation for 2024-25 stood at Rs 87,656 crore. This looks like an increase in absolute numbers, but if you adjust for inflation (assuming it to be 5%), this is a decline of 3.17%. The budget for the health and family welfare department has reduced after accounting for inflation. The Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) is aimed at building tertiary healthcare capacity in medical education, research and clinical care, in the under-served areas of the country. For FY 2024-25, the scheme has been allocated Rs 2,400 crore compared to the budget estimate of Rs 3,365 crore for the last financial year. This shows a direct decline of 33%. Then in the Education Sector overall allocation for education has remained at a mere 3.29% of GDP even though the NEP-2020 recommends 6% allocation of GDP. Jamaat-e-Islami Hind is also disappointed with the Budget Estimate for the Union Minority Ministry remaining almost unchanged with marginal increase for a couple of schemes and programs. In fact, the budget for total education empowerment of minorities was slightly decreased, nearly ₹125 crore, reportedly due to cancellation of scholarship schemes like pre-metric and the Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF). However, the Education Scheme for Madrasas and Minorities has been increased in the revised budget to ₹5 crore after being slashed to ₹2 crore from ₹10 crore in the last budget. JIH demands that the allocation to health and education should be at least 3% and 6% of GDP respectively. There has been no change in the direct and indirect tax structure. The common man has received no special relief.”

Talking about the Broadcast Bill, Vice President of Jamaat Islami Hind, Professor Mohammad Salim Engineer said: “Jamaat-e-Islami Hind expresses its concerns regarding the draft Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023, as it raises apprehensions about censorship and restrictions on the press. While the objective of the Bill is to establish a comprehensive legal framework for the broadcasting sector in the country, there are valid concerns that it may result in censorship of over-the-top (OTT) platforms, erosion of digital media’s independence, and ambiguity regarding regulation. The Bill creates a back door Censor Board for regulation of information by proposing the formation of a Broadcast Advisory Council to advise the Union Government on violations of the program code and advertisement code. The most alarming aspect of the draft is the inclusion of news to include that generated by independent news portals and individuals who have become popular sources for news and opinions, explainer videos, and other online audio-visual content, along with OTT content, shows, serials, documentaries, and other traditionally certified features. It means that the Bill’s definition of news and current affairs programs as “newly received or noteworthy programs” includes analysis, about recent events primarily of socio-political, economic, or cultural nature. This is vague and broad enough to encompass content creators who may not fit the conventional notion of broadcasters. This definition would also include independent YouTube journalists and news analysts. Similarly, digital news websites would also fall under the purview of the Bill as it defines “program” to be inclusive of such platforms. This marks the first time that news will be subjected to a Central Board of Film Certification-inspired regime, typically reserved for cinema, potentially paving the way for pre-censorship. According to the draft Bill, non-compliance with its provisions may result in penalties such as content censorship, mandatory apologies, temporary suspension of broadcasting, and fines. In cases of repeated non-compliance, the broadcaster’s registration may be revoked. JIH urges the Union Information & Broadcasting Ministry to defer the draft Bill and engage in genuine consultations with all the stakeholders.”

Addressing the conference, Jamaat’s Media Department Secretary KK Suhail talked about Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza and the International Court of Justice. Mr KK Suhaid said: “Jamaat-e-Islami Hind would like to register its appreciation of South Africa for its bold and timely move to drag Israel to the United Nation’s highest judicial body. In keeping with its glorious legacy of fighting colonialism, occupation, and apartheid, South Africa took up cudgels on behalf of Palestine and pleaded before the ICJ that Israel was responsible for serious breaches of humanitarian law and was committing acts of genocide in Gaza. South Africa stands vindicated as the ICJ has said in no uncertain terms that Gaza must be protected “from acts of genocide and related prohibited acts identified in Article III, and the right of South Africa to seek Israel’s compliance with the latter’s obligations under the Convention. JIH welcomes certain observations by the ICJ especially those mentioned in Paras 54, 78, and 79, although we are disappointed that the ICJ did not explicitly call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The positive aspect of the ICJ ruling is that it specifically accomplishes the goal of preventing genocide and serves as a moral and legal condemnation of Israel for its airstrikes on healthcare facilities, and densely populated civilian areas. The fact that a 15-2 majority within the ICJ favored most of the provisional measures shows a broad consensus over Israel agreeing to refrain from genocidal warfare. We urge the Government of India, the international community along with Muslim countries to press Israel for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The indictment of Israel in ICJ should be extended to achieving peace and a cessation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip.”

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