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Amid Babri Masjid-Ram Janmbhoomi title suit row, BJP MP Vinay Katiyar claims 6000 places destroyed by Mughal emperors, including Jama Masjid and Taj Mahal

Two days after the Supreme Court adjourned till February 8 its hearing on the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmbhoomi title suit, BJP’s Kanpur MP Vinay Katiyar stoked another controversy on Thursday by claiming that the historic Jama Masjid in New Delhi was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan atop a destroyed temple – the Jamuna Devi Mandir.

The claim by Katiyar, known for his hate speeches against the Muslim community, come months after he reiterated an already trashed theory pushed by Hindutva hardliners and self-styled historians about the Taj Mahal, also commissioner by Shah Jahan, being built above a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and called Tejo Mahalaya.

Katiyar told news agency ANI that “there were about 6000 places that were broken down by Mughal emperors” and that Delhi Jama Masjid and Agra’s Taj Mahal were both built over razed temples.

On October 18, Katiyar had joined other BJP leaders like Rajya Sabha member Subramanian Swamy and Uttar Pradesh MLA Sangeet Som to claim that the iconic Taj Mahal was a “symbol of slavery” and “barbarism of the Muslim rulers”.

“The Mughals destroyed our temple. Taj Mahal is a Hindu temple. Symbols of our Gods and Goddesses can be found there…Water from a great height used to drip on the Shivling kept in the temple. They (the Mughals) have removed the Shivling and built a mausoleum,” Katiyar had said.

The comments by the Kanpur MP come at a time when the BJP and Congress are engaged in a vitriolic verbal duel over the long pending Babri Masjid-Ram Janmbhoomi title suit that is being heard by the Supreme Court. On December 5, a day before the 25th anniversary of the demolition of Babri Masjid by Hindutva mobs affiliated with the BJP and RSS in Ayodhya, the Supreme Court had decided to adjourn proceedings in the title suit till February 8.

Appearing for one of the Muslim litigants in the case, senior advocate Kapil Sibal had requested the Supreme Court Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra to postpone the hearing in the title suit until July 2019. Sibal had argued that the verdict would have repercussions outside the court and disturb law and order in the country and had questioned the “hurry” in concluding the hearing.

A day later, addressing an election rally in his home-state of Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sought to use Sibal’s stand in the court to slam the Congress party over the “sin of keeping important issues unresolved” for electoral gains even as he lauded the Sunni Waqf Board of Uttar Pradesh for disagreeing with Kapil Sibal’s arguments.

On Thursday, Sibal clarified that he was not representing the Sunni Waqf Board and sought to de-link his roles as a professional lawyer and a Congress politician. “First of all, I am a professional. I represented Iqbal Ansari,” he said.

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