Survey of Gyanvapi Complex begins amid protests | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Survey of Gyanvapi Complex begins amid protests

By, Varanasi
May 07, 2022 04:34 AM IST

The survey, which involves videography and inspection, was conducted by court-appointed advocate commissioner Ajai Kumar and team. The process, which was ordered by a local Varanasi court on April 26, will take another 2-3 days, said Madan Mohan Yadav, who represented the Hindu petitioners in court.

A court-ordered survey of a section of the Kashi Vishwanath temple-Gyanvapi Masjid complex in Varanasi began on Friday but quickly ran into protests, marking yet another controversy to roil the site of a decades-old religious dispute.

Police personnel deployed outside Gyanvapi Masjid in Varanasi on Friday. (ANI)
Police personnel deployed outside Gyanvapi Masjid in Varanasi on Friday. (ANI)

The survey, which involves videography and inspection, was conducted by court-appointed advocate commissioner Ajai Kumar and team. The process, which was ordered by a local Varanasi court on April 26, will take another 2-3 days, said Madan Mohan Yadav, who represented the Hindu petitioners in court.

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But the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, which manages the Gyanvapi mosque, expressed dissatisfaction with the survey and said they would move court on Saturday. “Our opposition has been to videography in the mosque area as it is prohibited,” said SM Yasin, the secretary of the committee.

The survey was ordered by a Varanasi civil court on April 26 on a 2021 petition by five women who sought daily prayers and worship rights at the Maa Shringar Gauri Sthal, a shrine dedicated to Hindu goddess Parvati which is in Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi complex.

Currently, prayers are allowed once a year at the spot, which is inside the Gyanvapi mosque complex – which itself abuts the Kashi Vishwanath temple.

“The evidence to be gathered during the survey will be kept at a safe place,” said Yadav.

The court asked Kumar to conduct a survey of the entire area of araji (plot) number 9130, which includes Maa Shringar Gauri Sthal and the Gyanvapi complex.

The mosque management challenged the order in the Allahabad high court.

This is the latest round of controversy in a decades-old dispute over faith and legal jurisdiction of devotees – similar to the one in Ayodhya – where some Hindu groups believe a temple was partially razed to build the 17th-century Gyanvapi mosque.

It first reached the courts in 1991, when local Hindu priests sought permission to worship in the mosque area. The hearing was later suspended by the Allahabad high court.

But the case gained steam in December 2019 when a local Hindu man filed an application in the civil court as the “next friend” of the presiding deity of the temple, Swayambhu Jyotirling Bhagwan Vishweshwar. In law, a next friend is a representative of someone incapable of maintaining a suit directly.

Last year, a Varanasi civil court ordered an archaeological survey of the Gyanvapi complex, saying the exercise was required to decide on pleas that allege the mosque was built by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb after partially demolishing a Hindu shrine. This order was challenged before Allahabad HC which suspended all proceedings and is likely to hear the case on a regular basis.

To be sure, the survey of the complex conducted on Friday is not an archaeological survey by the government – as had been previously ordered by a different Varanasi lower court.

On Friday afternoon, Kumar and his team, in the presence of other teams of the Masjid Committee and the Uttar Pradesh government, started the survey and inspection. Heavy police force was deployed outside the complex, said a senior officer. “We are in alert mode,” he added.

Before the survey began, a large number of people offered namaz at the Gyanvapi mosque and when the survey team entered the complex, around 50 people started shouting slogans against the survey. In response, Hindu groups mobilised and chanted religious slogans, raising tensions in the area. Police finally removed the protesters.

The survey will resume at 2.30 pm on Saturday. Madan Mohan Yadav called the allegations baseless and said the advocate commissioner is conducting the survey as per the court’s order. The court has asked the survey report to be presented before the next hearing in the case on May 10.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Sudhir Kumar is Varanasi based senior staff correspondent.He covers all developments, politics, education--primary, secondary and higher -- crime, offbeat, tribes and human angle stories

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