Varanasi Court Orders ASI Survey of Gyanwapi Maszid

VARANASI: A local Court on Thursday directs the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to survey the controversial Gyanwapi Maszid complex, which adjoining the Kashi Vishwanath temple. The court wants to see whether the Maszid standing at the present and disputed site is superimposition and alteration of the exiting temple.

The order came on the petition filed by advocate Vijay Shankar Rastogi in 2019 requesting a survey of the entire Gyanwapi compound by the ASI. The petitioner also demanded the restoration of the land on which the mosque stood to Hindus, claiming that Mughal emperor Aurangzeb had pulled down parts of the Kashi Vishwanath temple to built it.

In January 2020, the defendant ‘Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee had filed an objection against the said petition.

In its order on Thursday, the court directed the ASI director general to constitute a five – member committee of distinguished persons who are well versed in the same. The order also stated that two of whom should be belonging to minority community.

The five-member committee shall submit a report of its survey work to the observer on regular basis. Further the committee shall also prepare a comprehensive report, drawing plan, elevation, site map and precise breadth and width of disputed place.

The first petition was filed in Varanasi Civil Court in 1991, seeking permission for the worship of Gyanwapi. The petitioner had contended that the temple was built by the Maharaja Vikramaditya 2050 years ago, however, Aurangzeb destroyed it in 1664 and construct a mosque which was further known as Gyanwapi mosque on a portion of the temple land.

The petitioner had also requested the court to issue directions for removal of the mosque from the temple land and give back to the temple trust. The petition contended that the Places of Worship (Special Provision) Act was not applicable on the suit as the mosque was built after demolishing the temple.