Places of Worship Act-1991: Relevance and Consequences

Image: India Today (Representational Image of Gyanvyapi Mosque)

The Places of Worship Act was introduced in 1991. According to the Act, the religious character of a place of worship will continue to be the same as on August 15, 1947. No person shall convert any place of worship of any religious denomination into one of a different denomination or section. However, the Ramjanmabhoomi in Ayodhya was barred from this Act, as the violence regarding it was already at its peak.

The Congress government then, under the leadership of Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao had brought in the Places of Worship Act, in 1991.

The Babri Masjid issue was at its peak under the leadership of L.K. Advani. His Rath yatra raised communal tension in Uttar Pradesh then. He was arrested by the police in Bihar and many kar servaks were fired in Uttar Pradesh. The Congress government then took the step of introducing the Bill to help prevent future communal clashes in future.

However, after a year, in December 1992, the Babri Masjid was destroyed by the activists of VHP and other Hindu groups. This led to communal violence across the country.

Earlier, when the Places of Worship Bill was introduced in the 1991 Monsoon Session, the debates went up to at least eight hours. The debates were interrupted frequently, with intense opposition from the BJP’s side. However, after three days of debate, both sides claimed that their position would ensure communal harmony.

Ultimately, the Bill was passed without any major amendments. However, the Babri Masjid issue in Ayodhya and Jammu and Kashmir were expelled from its purview.

Now the talk of the town is that, with the success of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, the BJP government wants to win the hearts of the people with religious issues like Ram Mandir. Now the next in their agenda is the Gyanvapi Mosque to woo the voters. However, they are finding ways and means to bring out this issue and brainwash the minds of the people. They have brought the Places of Worship Act into the limelight.

People feel that the day is not very far when they would see communal violence again regarding the Gyanvyapi Mosque case.

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