An ASI Study of the Gyanvapi Mosque in Varanasi Ordered

Image Courtesy: Sabrang

A Varanasi Court has allowed an Archeological Survey of India (ASI) study of the Gyanvapi Mosque adjacent to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. The order was passed by the Civil Judge (Senior Division), Varanasi Civil Court. 

The plea before the Court demanded the restoration of the land on which the Gyanvapi Mosque is located to Hindus on claims that Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb had pulled down a portion of the 2000-year-old Kashi Vishwanath Temple to build the Gyanvapi Mosque there in 1669.

Also read: Supreme Court to Hear Petitions Against the Places Of Worship Act (Special Provisions), 1991

The plea was opposed by the Gyanvapi Mosque Management Committee. The Court has today allowed an ASI survey of the Mosque. The matter will be taken up next on May 31, 2021.

According to this order, an expert is to be appointed as an observer for the committee. The Committee is to report on the survey work done to the observer.

The Committee’s prime purpose is to find out whether the religious structure standing at the disputed site is a superimposition, alteration or addition or if there is structural overlapping of any kind over any other religious structure. If there is any such structure, the Committee is to examine the age, size, monumental and architectural design or style of the religious structure standing at the disputed site and what materials were used to build the same. The Committee is to trace if any temple belonging to the Hindu community ever existed before the mosque was built or superimposed or added at the disputed site. If so, the Committee is to find out the age, size, monumental and architectural design or style etc. and what Hindu deity or deities the same was devoted to.

Also read: Yogi Adityanath and Non-Brahminical Hindutva: An Excerpt

It is to be noted that the Supreme Court will be hearing a petition filed on March 12, 2021 by Ashwin Kumar Upadhyay of BJP. This petition also demands the withdrawal of the Act and argues that the sections 2, 3 and 4 of the Act violates fundamental freedom and right of the Hindus. 

 According to this petition filed by Ashwin Kumar Upadhyay, 

The foreign invaders of India between A D 1192 – 1947 have destroyed the Hindu places of worship and also occupied them by using their military power. The provisions in the Places Of Worship Act (Special Provisions), 1991 violates India’s cultural and religious traditions. 

This Act has excluded the birthplace of Ram but not of Krishna. What about those who are fighting to restore the sanctity of the birthplace of Krishna? Other than this, several pilgrim centres of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs, before 1947 were under the control of the British. This Act bars remedy against the encroachment made of these shrines. This Act violates the fundamental right to worship, of these communities. 

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