Mosques have begun to be caught up in a wide-ranging project under the BJP to rewrite India’s history according to Hindutva ideology. According to the lawyers, this grand, white-domed Mosque, one of the largest and oldest in India, is not a mosque at all. “No no, this is a Hindu temple,” asserted BP Singh. “It’s a very holy place for Hindus.”
Records dating back to 1856 make reference to the working mosque, and according to local Muslims, they have been praying there undisturbed since it was built by Shamsuddin Iltutmish, a Muslim king, in 1223. The Singhs however, have a different version of events.
In July, they filed a court case on behalf of a local Hindu farmer – and backed by the right-wing Hindu nationalist party Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM) – alleging that Shamsi Jama Masjid is not a Mosque, but an “illegal structure” built on a destroyed 10th-century Hindu temple for the god Shiva. Their petition states that Hindus have rightful ownership of the land and should be able to pray there.