The lawyer said on Wednesday that members of the extremist Hindu group had filed a petition in a North Indian court to bar Muslims from entering the historic mosque until the court decides on an earlier application seeking permission to search for any Hindu ruins that may be on the site.
Judges in a local court in Mathura, a Hindu religious town in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), have allowed new petitions but have begun hearing 2020 cases seeking permission to film and survey inside the 17th-century Shahi Eidgah mosque.
Mahendra Pratap, a lawyer involved in the case, said, “We suspect that Hindu symbols may have been removed from inside the Shahi Eidgah mosque, so we want the court to suspend the entry of Muslims.”
This month, another local court in the state allowed a team to visit and film one of the most prominent mosques in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s political constituency, the ancient city of Varanasi.
On Tuesday, the country’s top court overturned a ruling imposed by a Varanasi court to restrict large Muslim prayer gatherings at the Gyanvapsi mosque, but allowed the local court to continue its activities.
Members of a radical Hindu group affiliated with Modi’s party believe that Islamic invaders destroyed Hindu temples during their 200-year rule.
“We believe that statues of Hindu deities were lying inside the mosque after the demolition of a temple by Muslim rulers to prove their dominance,” said Ranjana Agnihotri, a lawyer representing Hindu parties, questioning the legitimacy of the Shahi Eidgah mosque in Mathura.
Surveyors involved in the Varanasi case say they have found a large relic of the Hindu god Shiva inside the Gyanvapasi mosque, but Muslim groups say a fountain is being misrepresented to spread religious tensions.
Reports of statues found inside the mosque have further encouraged Hindu groups in the western and southern states to search other mosques.
Aurangabad city police said they had tightened security around the tomb of Mughal ruler Aurangzeb when members of a regional political party MNS threatened to destroy the tomb, believing it to be anti-Hindu.
The same party recently succeeded in forcing the Maharashtra government to ensure decibel levels of Muslim prayer calls after its leaders threatened to offer Hindu prayers outside mosques.
Leaders of Muslim political and religious groups have said they will fight legally against Hindu groups that desecrate mosques and tombs.
“We (Muslims) will not allow Hindus to insult our faith and our mosques,” said Asaduddin Waisi, a federal lawmaker and leader of a regional Islamic political party.