VHP general secretary Milind Parande; (Photo: ANI)

By Dhaval S. Kulkarni

The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) has demanded that the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, which imposes a status quo on the character of religious sites as they stood on the day of India’s Independence, be done away with. The Sangh Parivar affiliate has also called upon Muslims to voluntarily give up their claim over the disputed sites in Mathura and Varanasi.

The Places of Worship Act was enacted by Parliament at the time of the P.V. Narasimha Rao-led Congress government in 1991, when the Ram temple movement was at its peak.

The VHP had earlier claimed that the Act, which mandates that the character of all religious places of worship be maintained as on August 15, 1947 and that no place of worship of any religious denomination be converted or changed into one of a different denomination, does not apply to the Gyanvapi mosque dispute in Varanasi.

Milind Parande, general secretary, VHP, said there was no need for the Act and that his organisation favoured its repeal. “The Supreme Court and high courts are considering issues related to Kashi and Mathura despite this Act,” he added. However, Parande was evasive when asked whether repeal of the Act would open a veritable pandora’s box, with claims being made on lands on which places of worship of other faiths stood.

This story was originally published in indiatoday.in. Read the full story here.