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UK Media Whipping Up Religious Discord in India Ahead of Elections

© AFP 2023 NIHARIKA KULKARNISecurity personnel stand guard near the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi on February 01, 2024.
Security personnel stand guard near the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi on February 01, 2024. - Sputnik India, 1920, 20.03.2024
Leading British daily Financial Times is copping backlash in India for its article predicting tensions between Hindus and Muslims if Prime Minister Modi secures a 3rd term in Lok Sabha elections.
An article in British publication Financial Times has drawn backlash from India's top religious group Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and many others for peddling anti-Hindu propaganda on legal disputes over "reclaiming" of the sites of two mosques in Varanasi and Mathura (Uttar Pradesh).

The FT article, published on Wednesday, refers to the Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi (believed to be the birthplace of Hindu deity Krishna)-Shahi Eidgah Mosque and the Kashi Vishwanath Temple-Gyanvapi Mosque in Varanasi as "shared religious sites".Both the temples are considered sacred by India's Hindus, which officially constitute around 80 percent of the population. According to reported historical evidence, the mosques at the temple sites were built on structures razed in the 16th and 17th centuries, as highlighted by the FT in its article as well.

Indian courts are currently seized of both the religious disputes, which the British publication stated would "shape religious discourse, social equanimity and the direction of secular democracy in the world’s most populous country".

"In Modi’s India, Hindu nationalists believe that they have not just history but a sympathetic government and the courts on their side," the article stated, casting an apparent aspersion on the integrity of the Indian judiciary.

Citing experts, the FT article further predicts that Modi's re-election in the general election starting next month has raised "spectre of further, profound communal disputes surfacing elsewhere in India along the country’s main religious divide (Hindu-Muslim)".
The dire prediction of "communal disputes", questions of India's judicial integrity and the references to "shared religious sites" has angered many Indians, including members of the Hindu community.

FT's Article Reflects an 'Anti-Hindu' Mindset: VHP

VHP spokesperson Vinod Bansal told Sputnik India that the FT piece in question clearly reflected its "anti-Hindu mindset".
"The reportage by the FT shows a biased understanding of history. In spite of the acknowledgement in the article that the mosques in Kashi and Mathura were built on razed Hindu temples, it has chosen to peddle propaganda that should be viewed not only as anti-Hindu, but also anti-Bharat (India)," Bansal stated.
The VHP spokesperson said that contrary to what's portrayed by the FT article, the sites are not "shared" but "encroached" by "foreign Islamist invaders" who razed temples.
"How could a religious structure be shared? It is a historical grievance for millions of Indians" he asserted.
Bansal took strong issue to FT's question on the independence of Indian judiciary in adjudicating on the two religious disputes.

"These are concerted attempts by anti-Bharat forces and their friends in sections of the media to portray our country and our values in a bad light. The Ayodhya verdict in 2019 proved the strength and resilience of Indian democracy to overcome disputes and work collectively towards realising the dream of a developed nation," Bansal remarked.

The Ayodhya verdict by the Supreme Court, which brought to closure decades of Hindu-Muslim dispute over the Ram Temple, was hailed by Prime Minister Modi as "proof of India's ancient culture and tradition of social harmony".
"Bharat has come a long way since the 1990s, when sectarian clashes were allowed to happen. We are a society with a deep understanding of our social values and heritage. We have firm faith in the courts of the country and everybody would respect the court's verdict, whatever it might be," Bansal affirmed.
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