Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat on Thursday questioned the recent spate of Hindutva supremacists claiming the existence of shivlings in mosques across the country, ANI reported.

Addressing the concluding session of the annual officers’ training camp of the RSS at Nagpur, Bhagwat said that the Hindutva organisation was not in favour of launching campaigns such as the Ram Janmabhoomi movement in Ayodhya.

However, he tacitly backed Hindus on the Gyanvapi mosque dispute in Varanasi.

“On Gyanvapi, our faith has been there for generations,” he said on Thursday. “What we are doing is fine. But why look for a shivling in every mosque?”

The RSS chief said there was no need to raise a fresh dispute every day as that would escalate conflicts.

The plaintiffs in the Gyanvapi mosque case have claimed that an image of the Hindu deity Shringar Gauri exists at the site. Hindu litigants have sought permission to offer prayers at the site daily and bar Muslims from praying at the Gyanvapi mosque. A district court in Varanasi is hearing the matter.

A court-appointed surveyor reported that an oval object had been found in the tank of the Muslim place of worship. Hindu petitioners claimed that it is a shivling, a symbolic representation of Shiva. Muslims, however, say that the object is actually a fountain.

Since hearing on the Gyanvapi case started in April, Hindutva supremacists have made claims about existence of temples and Hindu idols at several mosques and historical monuments. On May 27, former Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister KS Eshwarappa claimed that 36,000 temples had been demolished to build mosques, and said that the temples would be reclaimed legally, India Today reported.

On Thursday, the RSS chief said that mosques are also sites for a form of prayer, even if it “comes from outside”. He added that Muslims who pray at the Gyanvapi mosque are not outsiders.

“Even if their prayer is from outside, and they wish to continue with it, we are fine with it,” Bhagwat said, He claimed that the ancestors of present-day Indian Muslims were Hindus as well, ANI reported.

Bhagwat told the gathering that the RSS had participated in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement for historical reasons and it had no such plans for other disputed sites of worship.

On Monday, Bharatiya Janata Party chief JP Nadda had also said that the Gyanvapi dispute will be resolved in the courts. Nadda said that the party had passed a resolution in 1989 on the Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi case. But, no such resolution has been passed since then.

Veteran BJP leader LK Advani had led a campaign for the construction of a temple in place of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, which was demolished in 1992, after the party adopted a resolution at its National Executive meeting in 1989. In 2019, the Supreme Court paved the way for the construction of a Ram Temple at the site.