Hindus target Gyanvapi mosque, court orders survey

Uttar Pradesh: A Varanasi court on Thursday ordered the completion of a survey and submission of a report, on the Gyanvapi mosque, by May 17. The order came a day after the hearing of the petition, which sought the removal of the court-appointed Advocate Commissioner, who was entrusted with the responsibility of conducting the survey.

Subhash Nandan Chaturvedi, one of the counsels for the petitioners, said, “The court has directed to conduct a full survey and submit a detailed report on May 17 for the next hearing of the case.” The court directed the district administration not to delay the survey on the pretext.

The court said the survey is likely to begin the day after tomorrow while ordering a survey of the entire Gyanvapi complex. “The mosque and its basement will be surveyed”, the lawyer said.

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Chaturvedi further said, “The court rejected the petition of Anjuman Intifada Masjid Committee seeking removal of Advocate Commissioner Ajay Kumar.” According to reports, the court has appointed another lawyer Vishal Kumar Singh as Advocate Commissioner and Ajay Pratap Singh as Assistant Advocate Commissioner. The court directed that Advocate Commissioner Ajay Kumar Mishra and Special Advocate Commissioner Vishal Singh would jointly take action against the commissioner. In case of Mishra’s absence, Vishal Singh will conduct a survey. If the Sangh is absent then Ajay Mishra will do it.

The survey includes videography and inspection of the premises of Maa Shringar Gauri Stall and the adjoining Gyanvapi Mosque. Counsel for the petitioners said that all parties would be present during the survey. On April 26, the court of Civil Judge Ravi Kumar Devakar in Varanasi ordered videography of Maa Shringar Gauri Stall through the Advocate Commissioner and asked to submit a detailed report to the court on May 10. 

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It is pertinent to note that the petition filed in the court, stated that the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir had destroyed the ancient temple of Lord Vishushar in 1664 and had established a mosque here. According to the request, the mosque was built with the materials of the destroyed temple. The court order asked the Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India to form a five-member committee to look into the facts regarding the construction of the mosque.

According to the court, the committee should include experts who are well versed in the science of archeology, two of whom belong to a minority group. The court also asked the director of the Archaeological Survey of India to nominate a renowned scholar or educator as an observer of the committee. The court order said the main purpose of the archaeological survey was to determine whether the “religious building” at the disputed site was built on top of another religious building or whether it was the result of some sort of alteration.

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The committee will also look into whether there was a Hindu temple on the site before the mosque. According to R. Shamshad, a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, the case could not be heard under a law enacted in 1991, but the case should be dismissed.

R. Shamshad said that the petition for dismissal of the case was filed in the court, and now the matter is pending in the Allahabad High Court as to whether the case can be heard or not. R. Shamshad added that while the case was pending in the Allahabad High Court, it was not permissible for the Varanasi court to rule on the case.

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