Gyanvapi mosque's scientific survey by ASI begins; 40 people inside complex | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Gyanvapi mosque survey by ASI begins amid tight security; 40 people inside Varanasi complex

Jul 24, 2023 08:51 AM IST

A team from the Archaeological Survey of India began the scientific survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex in Varanasi on Monday morning.

A team of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) began a scientific survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex in Uttar Pradesh's Varanasi on Monday morning. The survey is being conducted even as the mosque management committee filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the Varanasi district court’s order allowing the inspection, people aware of the matter said on Sunday.

Security personnel deployed outside the Gyanvapi mosque complex in Varanasi on Monday.
Security personnel deployed outside the Gyanvapi mosque complex in Varanasi on Monday.

On Sunday, the ASI team reached Varanasi with all the required equipment.

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In a video shared by news agency ANI, a UP Police team can be seen entering the Gyanvapi mosque complex as the ASI survey began.

There are around 40 members, including ASI officials, four Hindu women plaintiff and their counsels, and councils for the Gyanvapi mosque management committee.

The Anjuman Intezamia Masajid Committee is not participating in the survey. The committee's joint secretary SM Yasin said, “We have boycotted the ASI survey. Neither we, nor our advocate are present there (in the Gyanvapi mosque) during the ASI survey. We are not participating in it."

The Varanasi court pronounced its order on a petition filed by the Hindu side seeking direction for a “scientific survey” of the entire Gyanvapi mosque premises by the ASI.

The petition was filed in May by five women who in another plea had earlier sought permission to pray at the “Shringar Gauri Sthal” inside the shrine complex. A structure — claimed to be a “Shivling” by the Hindu side and a “fountain” by the Muslim side — was also found on May 16 last year during a court-mandated survey of the mosque located next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple.

“This is a very glorious moment for us for the Hindu community and crores of Hindus... The survey is the only possible solution to this Gyanvapi issue,” Sohan Lal Arya, one of the petitioners in the Gyanvapi mosque case told ANI.

What did Varanasi court say?

On Friday, the Varanasi district court ordered an extensive survey of the Gyanvapi masjid by the ASI to ascertain whether the mosque was built over a pre-existing Hindu temple, holding that the scientific investigation is “necessary” for the “true facts” to come out.

The court, however, ordered excluding the section which has remained sealed since the Supreme Court order in May 2022. The area under the seal is where Hindus insist a Shivling has been found, while Muslims claim it is part of a fountain.

“The ASI survey will begin on Monday. All the parties, including plaintiffs and defendants related to the matter have been informed about it,” Varanasi district magistrate S Rajalingam had said.

The Varanasi district court had on May 16 agreed to hear a plea for an ASI survey, following an Allahabad high court order.

What did Supreme Court say on Gyanvapi mosque?

Earlier, the Supreme Court had ordered the protection of the area around the claimed 'shivling', found when another court ordered a video survey of the complex.

The mosque management maintained that the structure is part of the water fountain mechanism at the 'wazukhana', the reservoir where devotees perform ablutions before offering namaz.

At one stage, lawyers representing the mosque argued that the Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi mosque case was not maintainable, claiming that it violated the Place of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, news agency PTI reported.

That law ruled out changing the character of any place of worship from what it was on August 15, 1947. The Act, however, made an exemption for the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid legal dispute.

Ayodhya's Hanumangarhi mahant Raju Das welcomes the Varanasi court order. Ram Janmabhoomi chief priest Satyendra Das said the seers are elated with it.

(With inputs from Sudhir Kumar in Varanasi)

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