Gyanvapi Mosque: Hindus Allowed To Worship In Sealed Basement.

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Four Hindu women recently approached the Supreme Court, requesting excavation and scientific survey of a sealed section at the Gyanvapi Mosque, specifically the “Chevin” area within the “Vazukhana” area in the mosque complex.

A city court in Varanasi has allowed Hindu petitioners to worship in an already sealed basement, known as ‘Vyas ka Tekhan’, within the Gyanvapi Masjid complex. The judge ordered the removal of barricades and other arrangements to be completed within a week. The court specified that the puja should be performed by the priests of the Kashi Vishwanath temple. Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain, representing the four Hindu women petitioners, said the district administration should ensure that the arrangements are in place and everyone has the right to pray in that area. It is expected that the Mosque Committee will challenge this order in the higher court.

A city court decision has allowed Hindus to worship in the sealed basement of the Gyanvapi Mosque in Varanasi. The decision comes after a petition was filed by Hindu devotees seeking the right to worship inside the mosque premises. The area known as ‘Vyas ka Tekhana’ will now be accessible for Hindu prayers. The court’s decision has given rise to debate and controversy regarding religious rights and property ownership in the area.

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When it was sealed

Following the direction of the Supreme Court, an order was given to seal the area of Gyanvapi Mosque in 2022. The Hindu side has now appealed to the court for a fresh survey by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) without causing any damage to the ‘Vazukhana’ area, especially around the ‘Shivalinga’.

In a significant judgment last month, the Allahabad High Court dismissed all the petitions of the mosque committee challenging the civil suits aimed at the restoration of the temple at the site. Gyanvapi Masjid is located next to the famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple. The high court also addressed and dismissed petitions, including two by the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board, challenging the validity of a 1991 case in the Varanasi court.

More About The Mosque

The Gyanvapi Mosque houses four cellars (‘tekhana’) in its basement. One of these cellars remains in the possession of a hereditary priest family. The family, led by priest Somnath Vyas, has argued for the right to enter the structure and conduct rituals. The priest, Somnath Vyas, had been performing prayers until 1993 when access to the cellar was closed.

During a survey of the area, claims were made that debris from statues of Hindu gods was discovered. Additionally, parts of a pre-existing structure, identified as a temple in the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) report, including pillars, were purportedly utilized in the construction of the mosque.

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ACT Filed By Four Women

The 1991 suit, representing the Adi Vishveswar Virajman deity, aimed to claim control over the disputed premises. The Anjuman Intezamia Masajid Committee and the Waqf board contested the suit, asserting its non-maintainability under a law prohibiting alterations to the character of religious places as of Independence Day, August 15, 1947.

In a significant development regarding the Gyanvapi Mosque dispute, Hindus have been granted permission to worship in the sealed basement area of the mosque. This decision comes after an application was filed by four women seeking access to perform religious rituals at the site. The court’s ruling reflects a step towards accommodating the religious sentiments of both Hindu and Muslim communities while navigating the sensitive issue of religious property rights. The decision may have broader implications for similar disputes across the country.

In response, the petitioners contended that the dispute’s pre-independence origin exempted it from the mentioned law, implying that the legal restrictions on altering the character of religious places would not apply.

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