Explained | What Is the Krishna Janmabhoomi-Shahi Idgah Dispute in Mathura?

The Shahi Idgah and Krishna temple are engaged in a legal battle over the ownership of the land. 

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Edited By :Ahamad Fuwad

Video Editor: Prajjwal Kumar

On 19 May 2022, a Mathura court allowed re-opening of a lawsuit filed against a piece of land on which stands the Shahi Idgah, adjacent to the Katra Keshav Dev Temple, a Hindu Temple.

The two structures are engaged in a legal and political battle as the 13.77-acre plot is under contention for housing the Shahi Idgah right above the purported ‘Janmasthan,’ the birthplace of Lord Krishna.

"The 13.37-acre plot belongs to Hindus and a temple should be constructed there. The land is exactly where Lord Krishna was born, and this is written in our ancient scriptures and books. It is already proven and I know this because I am a Brijwasi."
Mahendra Pratap Singh, Petitioner

The Krishna Janmabhoomi Case in Mathura

While ‘removal of the Mosque’ is a common thread across dozens of the cases filed in the Mathura court, other pleas include demand for a video survey of the area, the right to offer prayers, and excavation at the site.

Apart from looking at the revenue records, the court will also rule on the validity of a 1968 ‘Compromise Promise’. The 1968 agreement says that the temple trust reportedly received the ownership of the land, while management rights of the Masjid were left to the Idgah committee.

The agreement also mentions that the trust did not have any legal right to stake claim on the Shahi Idgah. However, petitioners are now challenging the legality of the 1968 agreement.

The real conflict around the area started after the 1990s. There were no security personnel here before that. Today crores are being spent in the name of security. There is no need for security if communally charged speeches are not given. Even the Places of Worship Act says that the Ayodhya case was an exception. Now the case of Shahi Idgah has been admitted to the court.
Shamim, Cooler Repair Worker

But Who Owns the 13.77 Acres of Land?

The Shahi Idgah was reportedly built on the orders of Emperor Aurangzeb in 1670 after he reportedly decided to demolish Vir Singh's Kesavadeva temple. Vir Singh was reportedly a Rajput ruler of Orccha and a Mughal ally.

The area in question, the land, was a non-agricultural state land. From the Mughals to the Marathas, to the British the 13.77-acres of plot passed through many hands until 1944 when Jugal Kishore Birla bought the land for Rs 13,400 and set up The Shri Krishna Janam Bhoomi trust which acquired ownership rights for the temple.

Later in 1956, the Shri Krishna Janamasthan Sewa Sangh was set up to manage the temple affairs and its name was changed to Shri Krishna Jamasthan Sewa Sansthan in 1977.

A Gradual Divide Among Hindu-Muslim Residents

As Hindutva groups take the matter to the court, challenging the ownership of the land, residents complain of a growing divide among the people living in the vicinity of the area.

Noor Jahan, a homemaker, says that some people are just as they were before, but some have changed including her friends. “Some of them ignore us now. We used to celebrate festivals together,” she adds.

Sofia Malik, another homemaker, joins her, saying, “Kids are discussing if there will be a fight among communities here. Even schoolteachers are seen discriminating between Hindus and Muslims. If teachers differentiate between their students like that, why won’t the students follow suit?”

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