Masjid Committee objects to survey of remaining Gyanvapi cellars

VARANASI — The Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee (AIMC), which manages the Gyanvapi mosque, has objected to a plea seeking ASI survey, arguing that the exercise will damage the cellars.

The objections were made on Tuesday during the hearing of a plea seeking an ASI survey of all other closed cellars in the Gyanvapi mosque complex by using ground penetrating radar (GPR) and other modern techniques.

The court fixed February 15 as the next date of hearing in the case.

Rakhi Singh is the main plaintiff in the Maa Shringar Gauri case, which led to the survey of the complex by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) last year.

These remaining cellars were not accessed during the survey by ASI.

During the hearing on Tuesday, advocate Akhlaque Ahmad representing the AIMC, argued, “We have objection to the demand of survey because that would cause damage to the cellars.”

Ahmad said an objection against the plea will be filed in the court.

Advocate Saurabh Tiwari representing plaintiff Rakhi Singh argued, “The survey of the remaining cellars is required to ascertain the religious character of the Gyanvapi premises. During the recent survey by the ASI, the cellar numbers N1 and S1 could not be surveyed as their entrances are blocked with stones and bricks.”

Tiwari sought removal of the debris blocking the entrances through a safe method.

“The plea has been filed seeking an order to the ASI to undertake the scientific investigation/survey of the cellars using GPR and other methods without causing damage to the existing structure,” Tiwari said.

The ASI conducted the survey in the Gyanvapi mosque complex for about 84 days, first for a few hours on July 24 and then from August 4 to the first week of November 2023 regularly on a court order.

The agency submitted its survey report in the court of the district judge on December 18, 2023.

On January 24, Varanasi district court ordered a copy of ASI’s report on scientific survey of Gyanvapi mosque to the parties to the suit. Both Hindu and Muslim sides got a copy of the survey report on January 25.

Thereafter, quoting the ASI survey report, Vishnu Shakar Jain, a lawyer for the Hindu side, said a Hindu temple existed prior to the construction of the present structure (Gyanvapi mosque). The southern cellar of the Gyanvapi mosque was opened last week.

The development took place hours after the district court on January 31 allowed ‘puja’ in the southern cellar. The court directed the receiver to get the puja done by the plaintiff, Shailendra Kumar Pathak Vyas, who sought permission for it, and a priest nominated by Kashi Vishwanath Temple Trust Board.

In his application, Vyas had claimed that his maternal grandfather used to perform prayers there till December 1993. — (IANS)