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A plea asking for the removal of the mosque has been upheld in a Mathura court. The plea says the mosque was built adjacent to Krishna Janmabhoomi in Mathura. It has laid claim to 13.37 acres of land on the ground that it is the birthplace of Lord Krishna.

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On grounds similar to the Gyanvapi mosque survey in Varanasi, a plea was filed in a district court in Mathura asking for the survey of another mosque which shares some area with the Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi, which was agreed to. A Mathura court in Uttar Pradesh on May 19 finally allowed the plea seeking removal of the Shahi Idgah Masjid, which is claimed to be built on the Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi sthal to be filed. District Judge Rajeev Bharti overturned a civil court order that had dismissed the plea. The Court in its order said that the plea to remove the Shahi Idgah Masjid on the ground that it was built over Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi land is maintainable. The plaintiffs in this case asked for a claim on 13.37 acres of land on the ground that it was the birthplace of Lord Krishna. The verdict in the Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi-Shahi Idgah Masjid dispute case was earlier reserved by a court on May 5.

The Mathura Civil Court had on September 30, 2020, refused to admit a plea seeking removal of the Masjid adjacent to Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi in Mathura. The Court dismissed the plea on ground that the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, had exempted litigation over ownership in the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case, but had barred any other court from entertaining litigation that would seek to alter the status quo of a religious place as it existed in 1947.

The suit was filed on behalf of the deity along with devotees to ensure that darshan, puja, rituals according to the Vedic Sanatan Dharma, faith, belief, usages, traditions and customs guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution are performed at the actual birthplace of Lord Krishna. The plaintiffs pleaded for the removal of the construction illegally raised at the site without any authority of law and claimed their right under Article 26 of the Constitution to regain, hold and manage the property belonging to, owned and possessed by deity Lord Shri Krishna Virajmaan.

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The suit also stated that the Trust Masjid Idgah is not paying water tax or any other tax in respect of land of Katra Keshav Dev to Mathura-Vrindavan Nagar Nigam and its name does not find place in municipal records. Also, no mosque was in existence at the time of auction sale in 1815, and only a small dilapidated structure was lying in the corner of Katra Keshav Dev, which was later called a mosque by the Muslims.

Later, an appeal was filed in the district and sessions court challenging the lower court order. On November 11, 2020, the a body of priests and a social organization filed an appeal in the court to become parties in the matter.

It is pertinent to note here that the Allahabad High Court on May 12 had directed the Mathura court to dispose of all the applications related to the dispute within four months. A single-judge bench of Justice Salil Kumar Rai directed to issue an exparte order on Sunni Waqf Board and other parties who were not attending the hearing. A petition was filed in the High Court by Manish Yadav seeking completion of the hearing of all cases related to the issue and their disposal at the earliest. The High Court was further requested to club all the on­going cases in the Mathura court and hear them together.

On similar grounds of the Gyanvapi mosque survey in Varanasi, a plea was filed in a local court in Mathura seeking survey of the Shahi Idgah Masjid. The court in May this year agreed to hear a similar plea seeking videography of the Masjid. The petitioners also sought the appointment of an advocate commissioner to conduct the video survey.

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In June 2021, the Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi Mukti Aandolan Samiti had moved a Mathura court with a plea offering land to the Muslim party/mosque management committee in lieu of the 17th century Shahi Masjid which allegedly stands in the Katra Keshav Dev temple complex in the temple town. The outfit said the land will be larger than the present Masjid and the Muslim party can relocate there upon its demolition. The petitioners made this offer quoting the 2019 Ram Janmabhoomi title suit verdict of the Supreme Court, wherein the apex court ruled in favour of the Hindu parties, but asked the government to provide land to the Muslims to rebuild the mosque demolished in 1992. According to the petitioners, the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board and the management committee of the Shahi Idgah Masjid should accept the offer to resolve the matter amicably. In the Ayodhya case, the Supreme Court had said that the Babri Masjid structure was built after bringing down the Ram temple in Ayodhya and Muslims were given alternative land to have their place of worship across the Saryu.

The background to the present dispute dates back to the period when Mathura came under British control in 1804. The East India Company auctioned the land of Katra and it was purchased by Raja Patnimal. He wanted to build a temple, but could not do so. His descendants inherited the land of Katra. His descendant Rai Krishna Das was challenged regarding the ownership of 13.37 acres of land on which the shrine and the Shahi Idgah Masjid is situated in two civil suits by the Muslims of Mathura, but the Allahabad High Court ruled in favour of Rai Krishna Das in both suits in 1935. Kailash Nath Katju and Madan­mohan Chaturvedi had helped in these lawsuits. Later, politician Madan Mohan Malaviya acquired the land from Rai Krishna Das on February 7, 1944 at the cost of Rs 13,000 with financial help of industrialist Jugal Kishore Birla. Following the death of Malaviya, Jugal Kishore Birla formed a trust named Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi Trust, later registered as the Shri Krishna Janmasthan Seva Sans­than, on February 21, 1951, and acquired the land.

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In 1968, the Shri Krishna Janmasthan Seva Sangh and the Shahi Idgah committee reached a compromise agreement which granted the temple land to the Trust and the management of the Shahi Idgah Masjid to the Idgah committee with no legal claim of the Shri Krishna Janmasthan Seva Sangh on the Masjid. In 1992, Manohar Lal Sharma, a Vrindavan resident, filed a petition in the Mathura District Court challenging the 1968 agreement and another petition seeking quashing of the Places of Religious Worship Act, 1991, which preserves the status quo, as on August 15, 1947, for all places of worship. 

—By Shivam Sharma and India Legal Bureau

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