Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Varanasi court fixes Feb 15 for hearing plea seeking ASI survey of Gyanvapi basements


Lucknow: A Varanasi court on Tuesday fixed February 15 for the hearing of a petition seeking a survey of all closed basements in the Gyanvapi mosque complex by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

According to the petition, there are “secret cellars” inside the basements and it is necessary to survey them to reveal the entire truth of the Gyanvapi mosque, which Hindus claimed was built on the remains of a pre-existing temple.

The counsel for the Hindu side, Madan Mohan Yadav, said acting District Judge Anil Kumar has fixed February 15 as the next date of hearing on the petition.

He said that on the petition of Rakhi Singh, lawyers said that there are eight basements in the Gyanvapi complex which have not been surveyed earlier.

He claimed that the high court had earlier ordered in a 1991 case that the remaining survey be conducted.

The lawyers for the Gyanvapi mosque management committee expressed their objection to the demand for a survey and said that there was no such order of the high court.

There is no basis to order a survey of the remaining basements, they said.

After hearing both sides, the district court gave the next date.

The petitioner, Rakhi Singh, is a founding member of the Vishwa Vedic Sanatan Sangh and is one of the parties in the Maa Shringar Gauri case, which led to the survey of the complex by the ASI.

In the petition, she asked for all closed cellars in the Gyanvapi mosque complex, adjacent to the Kashi Vishwanath temple, to be surveyed by the ASI, her advocate Anupam Dwivedi said.

A map of the closed basements has also been included in the petition.

Following an earlier petition by five women devotees, the court had ordered the ASI to conduct a survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex, barring the wazukhana used for ritual ablutions before namaz.

The southern cellar of the Gyanvapi mosque was opened last week and a priest performed prayers.

The court had allowed regular prayers in the cellar on a petition by Shailendra Kumar Pathak, who claimed that his maternal grandfather, priest Somnath Vyas, used to perform prayers there till December 1993.

According to Pathak’s counsel, the access to the cellar was closed for the priest during Mulayam Singh Yadav’s term as Uttar Pradesh chief minister.

The prayers at the cellar are being performed by a priest nominated by the Kashi Vishwanath temple trust.

Hindu litigants claim that a temple was destroyed during Aurangzeb’s rule to build the Gyanvapi mosque. The recent ASI survey also suggested the mosque was built on the remains of a pre-existing temple.

HC hears arguments on plea challenging order allowing Hindu prayers

The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday heard both the sides on the Gyanvapi mosque committee’s appeal challenging the Varanasi district court order allowing Hindu prayers in a cellar of the mosque.

Justice Rohit Ranjan Agrawal heard the Hindu and Muslim parties and said the hearing would continue on Wednesday.

The Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, which looks after the affairs of the mosque in Varanasi adjacent to the Kashi Vishwanath temple, has filed the plea challenging the Varanasi court order allowing prayers in the southern cellar of the Gyanvapi mosque.


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