Fresh plea for ASI survey of other closed cellars on Gyanvapi mosque premises

On January 31, the district judge allowed regular worship of Hindu deities in the southern cellar of the Gyanvapi mosque.
A priest performs prayers in the basement of the Gyanvapi mosque following court orders allowing the resumption of the practice (Photo | PTI)
A priest performs prayers in the basement of the Gyanvapi mosque following court orders allowing the resumption of the practice (Photo | PTI)

LUCKNOW: Following the Varanasi district court ruling last week allowing puja in the southern cellar on the Gyanvapi mosque premises, a plea was filed on Monday in the same court seeking an ASI survey of all other closed basements in the complex.

The petition – filed by Rakhi Singh, a founding member of the Vishwa Vedic Sanatan Sangh and one of the parties along with four other Hindu women plaintiffs in the Shringar Gauri case, which led to the survey of the complex by the ASI – said there were “secret cellars” inside the basements, and it was imperative to survey them also so that the “entire truth” of the Gyanvapi mosque was revealed.

The Varanasi district court will hear the petition on Tuesday. Moreover, the court will also hear the objections filed by concerned parties to its January 31 order on Tuesday.

In the latest plea, Singh has contended that the survey of those cellars was necessary to establish the religious nature of the Gyanvapi premises since both Muslim and Hindu parties have made conflicting claims.

Particularly, Singh has submitted that cellars N1 to N5 in the northern part of the premises and cellars S1 to S3 in the southern part are yet to be surveyed. It is also submitted that the entrances to cellars N1 and S1 are completely obstructed, making them inaccessible. These cellars could not be surveyed earlier by the ASI because of blocked entrances.

Singh further submitted that the ASI could use modern technology to unblock the entrances and survey the cellars, without causing any damage to the structures.

On January 31, the district judge allowed regular worship of Hindu deities in the southern cellar of the Gyanvapi mosque. Soon after the Varanasi district judge’s order, the southern cellar of the Gyanvapi mosque was opened last week by the district administration and a priest performed prayers.

The court had allowed regular prayers in the cellar on the petition by Shailendra Kumar Pathak Vyas, 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.

Anjuman Intezamia Masajid, which manages the Gyanvapi mosque, has already moved the Allahabad high court challenging the Varanasi district court’s order.

Meanwhile, in the southern cellar, the puja has been going on since January 31 which was the last working day of District Judge Dr AK Vishvesha who had passed the order allowing it.

A priest performs prayers in the basement of the Gyanvapi mosque following court orders allowing the resumption of the practice (Photo | PTI)
Varanasi district court allows puja in cellar on Gyanvapi mosque premises

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