- Jama Masjid was built between 1644-1656 by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan
- The BJP MP claims it was erected on the remains of a Hindu temple
- Remark comes at a time when tensions are high over the Ram temple
The Hindutva dream of constructing a Ram Temple at the site of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya is yet to be realised, but BJP parliamentarian Sakshi Maharaj has come up with a new shocker in the run-up the Lok Sabha elections: Demolish Delhi's Jama Masjid because it has been constructed on the remains of a Hindu temple.
"The first statement I made in Mathura after entering politics was: Let Ayodhya, Mathura and Kashi be and demolish Delhi's Jama Masjid. If you don't find Hindu idols beneath its staircase, you are welcome to hang me," he said at a public rally in Uttar Pradesh's Unnao on Friday.
The BJP leader also claimed that the Mughals had demolished temples across India and constructed over 3,000 mosques in their place. "They did this to crush the spirit of Hindus," he said.
The Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India, was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan between 1644 and 1656.
The polarising statement comes at a time when a number of right-wing leaders, including Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat, have sought a government ordinance to ensure the early construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya. Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut even questioned the BJP's commitment to the cause, wondering why the centre was taking so long to pass an ordinance when Kar Sevaks had razed the Babri Masjid in just 17 minutes. Others like his chief, Uddhav Thackeray, have insinuated that the BJP only intends to exploit the issue for political purposes.
This is not the first instance of the firebrand BJP MP from Unnao making controversial statements related to religion. In January 2015, he urged Hindu women to bear at least four children each to safeguard their religion. The same year, he proclaimed himself as a "true Muslim" and identified Prophet Mohammed as a "Great Yogi". A year later, Sakshi Maharaj justified the mob killing of a Muslim man in Dadri by saying that Hindus do not mind taking up arms to prevent cows from being slaughtered. "We will not stand by silently if anybody tries to kill our mother. We are ready to kill and be killed," he said.
On Wednesday, the BJP leader said couples displaying their affection for each other in public should be put behind bars. Ironically, the statement came a few months after he was seen at the inauguration of a nightclub called "Let's Meet" in Lucknow.
(With inputs from Agencies)