From the ‘friend of many gods’ to the so-called ‘Crusaders’ of modern Hindutva who have come out to ‘restore’ the temples, the father-son duo of Hari Shankar Jain and Vishnu Shankar Jain – defenders of the Hindu side of the Gyanvapi-Kashish Vishwanath dispute – are once again in the spotlight.
Pictures of Vishnu Shankar Jain, flanked by the survey team, have become a familiar sight on news channels since the case made headlines. On Friday, the Supreme Court referred the Gianvapi Mosque case pending before a civil judge, High Circuit, to the Varanasi District Magistrate’s Court for trial.
Noting that the “more mature hand” and the “seasoned hand” should deal with the case of the Gyanvapi Mosque, the Supreme Court suggested that a district court of Varanasi should consider the matter. “This case should hear a more mature and mature hand. We do not debate the trial judge. But the more experienced hand should deal with this case and it will benefit all parties.”
The two reports on a video survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex, presented at the Varanasi court on Thursday, state that the ruins of ancient temples were found in the corner of the north and west walls outside the parapet, Hindu motifs such as bells, kalash, flowers and trishuls were visible on pillars in Takhan (basement) .
While the issue and its history have been the subject of much controversy, News18 takes a look at the father-son duo and their roles.
Born on 27 May 1954, Advocate Hari Shankar Jain has been practicing as a lawyer since 1976. He started his practice from Lucknow Court and gradually reached the High Court and Supreme Court. His son, Vishnu Shankar Jain, born on October 9, 1986, completed his law studies in 2010 and has been helping his father ever since.
Vishnu Shankar Jain is also the spokesperson for the Hindu Front for Justice. He started his practice with Shri Ram Janmabhumi’s Ayodhya case, appealing against the judgment of Allahabad High Court. In 2016, he passed the High Court Registered Advocate Exam and scored his first appearance in the Shri Ram Janmabhumi case.
There are as many as 102 cases in which any or both father and son duo of the Hindu side have appeared before a court of law. The oldest cases date back to 1990, with the case of Shree Krishna Janmabhumi in Mathura being one of the biggest ongoing battles between the two.
Talking about his father’s decision to choose ‘Dharma’ over his profession, Vishnu Shankar Jain once shared on a public platform how Hari Shankar Jain rejected the offer from the Muslim side in the Babri Mosque case because he did not want to “sell his conscience”.
He also credited his father with ensuring the right to pray for Ram Lala in Ayodhya, saying that the continued presence of Hindu devotees in the Ram Janmabhumi building which reopened in 1949 when idols were found inside the disputed structure, would have ceased in 1992 when the disputed building was demolished It was by Karsevaks after which the site was closed.
He pointed out the importance of the Hindu side continuation of Ram Lala’s ‘pooja’ even for legal reasons, and his father, despite personal problems, filed the relevant petition and obtained the court’s permission for the continuation of ‘darshan’ and ‘pooja’. After demolishing the disputed building.
Meanwhile, Hari Shankar Jain has been a staunch supporter of fundamentalism for saving religion. On July 31, 2017, he wrote on Twitter: “Religion can only be saved by any society by embracing fundamentalism. Tolerance is anathema and anti-religion. Solidity is fundamental to survival.”
However, he was quick to defend his position, claiming that he was against excessive tolerance and Sarva Dharma Sama Bhava (equality of all religions).
The Great Jain is also the main sponsor of the right-wing group Bhagwa Raksha Vahini (BRV), which was formed about seven years ago with the aim of “save Hindus”. He is also the national chairman of the Hindu Samrajiya Party (HSP), which came in August 2021 to establish the “Hindu Rashtra” in the country.
As the Gyanvapi affair goes through so many twists and turns, all eyes will be on the father-son duo and their efforts to “give back what is rightfully ours”.
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