This act came into light while Ayodhya verdict by SC in 2019 and again in 2020 after the ceremony of initiation (bhoomi pujan) on 5th of August. Soon after the ground breaking ceremony in Ayodhya, numerous people belonging to Hindu religion started demanding the reclamation of two more holy religious sites that is Shri Kashi Vishwanath in Varanasi and Shri Krishna Janmasthan in Mathura. Both these places are listed in holiest sapt puris (seven cities) along with Ayodhya.
Purpose of this Act
The Places of Worship Act, 1991(Act No. 42 of 1991) was passed in September 1991, year before demolition of disputed site in Ayodhya. In Sec. 3, it clearly states that conversion of place of worship or even a small part of it into place of worship of different religious denomination or segment is prohibited. It was passed to preserve and protect the equality of all faiths and beliefs. Along with some exemptions on disputed site of Ayodhya and on historical monuments under The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, it applies over every single place of worship. Violation of such act will result in 3 year imprisonment and fine.
This act serves dual purpose. Primarily, it protects the status of any religious place without discriminating with any particular religion. Secondly, it blocks the only possible way of reclaiming the religious sites which were forcibly converted by brutal forces. Every Indian knows the history of such long and invasive past which resulted into forceful conversions and demolition of religious places mainly belonging to Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists. In case of Ayodhya dispute, after unbiased investigation and excavation by ASI, it was proved that there was presence of Hindu religious structure prior to Babri mosque (disputed site). In reality, multiple places belonging to Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists are still lying in the hands of wrong party due to limitations of this act. For reference, you can read a book by Shri Sita Ram Goel (What Happened to The Hindu Temples: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2). List is long but we have to focus on the solution rather than never ending issues.
We have to focus on a solution which will lead to the peaceful co existence of various religions in India for which our country had achieved milestone of unity in diversity. Being a citizen of India and part of one religion, we have to think till when it is acceptable to continue with the wounds of past. Numerous invasions and colonial rule shattered the strong religious and prosperous Bharat but in present time, each and every individual must think and resolve such long pending issues which are prominent reason of unrest in India.
Unbiased and tolerant point of view is needed to resolve such issue but that doesn’t mean you have to give up your glorious past and its unique identity. According to the new trend, if someone raises the logical point to reclaim something belonging to him/her at the next moment he/she will be termed as intolerant in India.
We should always respect and carry the magnificent heritage preserved by our ancestors with utmost devotion. Today, we have to get rid of the structures, identity and presence of such invasive mindset which were imposed by the brutal forces of past. Earlier we accepted this, faster we can focus on dimensions of happy and peaceful co existence without any guilt.
In the above picture, ancient idol of bull is facing towards razed temple of Shri vishwanath in kashi. Nandi is still eagerly waiting for his Mahadev to return.
Sources : legislative.gov.in & The Places of Worship Act, 1991
Pictures: Wikipedia & Quora