Gyanvapi case: Court orders sealing of spot where Shivling reportedly found

Varanasi court orders sealing of portion of Gyanvapi mosque after Hindu plaintiffs claim Shivling was found there

May 16, 2022 04:11 pm | Updated May 17, 2022 12:29 pm IST - Lucknow

Policemen stand guard during the third and last day of a videographic survey at Gyanvapi Mosque complex, in Varanasi on May 16, 2022.

Policemen stand guard during the third and last day of a videographic survey at Gyanvapi Mosque complex, in Varanasi on May 16, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

A local court in Varanasi on May 16 ordered that a portion of the Gyanvapi Mosque premises be sealed after lawyers representing five Hindu plaintiffs claimed that a Shivling was found in the ablution water tank of the mosque in the concluding day of a Court Commissioner-led video inspection.

The caretakers of the mosque, however, said that the said object was not a shivling but a part of a stone fountain in the wazu khana (ablution tank) of the mosque. They said they would file an objection to the civil court’s orders and challenge what they termed was a one-sided sealing of a portion of the mosque premises in higher courts.

The court commission activity was concluded with an inspection session lasting 135 hours on May 16, said officials.

The Court Commissioner appointed by a Civil Judge is mandated to submit a report on the inspection on May 17. The proceedings were carried out for over four days, since May 6.

After the court-commission proceeding was concluded on May 16, Hari Shankar Jain, a lawyer for the Hindu plaintiffs, submitted an application in the court of Civil Judge Senior Division Ravi Kumar Diwakar claiming that a Shivling was found in the premises of the mosque during the inspection.

It was an “important piece of evidence,” said Mr. Jain, demanding that the area be sealed and entry to it be prohibited.

Judge Diwakar admitted the application and directed District Magistrate (Varanasi) Kaushal Raj Sharma to immediately seal the area where the Shivling was found and prohibit entry of all persons.

The court also directed the CRPF Commandant, DM and Police Commissioner to protect the secure the sealed area.

‘Found all evidence’

While Vishnu Jain, lawyer for the Hindu plaintiffs, claimed that a Shivling measuring 12 feet by 4 feet in diameter and three feet deep was found at the ablution tank, his colleague Subash Nandan Chaturvedi said the Court Commissioner had got the water of the tank drained on the request of the Hindu plaintiffs.

“There we found all the evidence we had claimed. The symbols of Hindu religion and culture were found in those premises,” Mr. Chaturvedi told journalists.

Sayin Yasin, joint secretary of the Anjuman Intezamia Masajid, the caretaker of the mosque, said the object claimed to be a Shivling was a part of a fountain.

“We wouldn’t describe it as a Shivling. It is a part of a fountain,” Mr. Yasin told The Hindu.

Mr. Yasin said that Mughal-era mosques usually had a hauz (water tank) which also had fountains. The fountain was made of stone and approximately two feet high and two feet wide. The “small fountain” was situated in the middle of a well-like fountain measuring 2.5 feet high and 5 feet in girth, Mr. Yasin said.

Mr. Yasin also said that the court issued a “one-sided order” on the basis of an application submitted by the Hindu plaintiffs and not by the court-appointed Commissioner, who is the neutral party in the matter.

Moreover, Mr. Yasin said the mosque caretakers were not handed a copy of the application submitted by the opposite side. Asked if the sealing of the wazu khana would disrupt daily prayer of Muslims at the mosque, Mr. Yasin said they were making arrangements for ablution in a bathroom.

All sides are satisfied: DM

Briefing journalists after the completion of the court commission inspection, DM Kaushal Raj Sharma said the proceedings on the last day lasted two hours and fifteen minutes.

“The next order of the court will be known on May 17. All sides are satisfied and they have all cooperated,” said Mr. Sharma, who refused to divulge any details about the inspection saying that only the court was the “custodian of the information”.

Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya took to Twitter to express pleasure at the claims made by the Hindu plaintiffs on the discovery of a shivling.

“No matter how much you hide the truth, one day it comes to the fore because ‘truth is Shiv’,” said Mr. Maurya, who tweeted with the hashtag “GyanvapiTruthNow”.

“On the occasion of Buddha Purnima, the manifestation of Baba Mahadev in Gyanvapi has sent a mythological message to the country’s eternal Sanatan Hindu tradition,” Mr. Maurya said.

Consent for videography

The court, last Thursday, had given its consent for videography inside the Gyanvapi Mosque premises by an Advocate Commissioner on a petition filed by five Hindu plaintiffs demanding daily access to prayer to a Hindu siteMaa Shringar Gauri said by them to be located outside the western wall of the mosque.

The court had also rejected the mosque committee’s demand to replace the Advocate Commissioner Ajay Kumar Mishra as well as overruled their objection to conducting the proceedings of the commission inside the mosque premises.

The mosque committee had accused him of being “biased” in favour of the Hindu plaintiffs but the court found no merit in their argument.

Judge Diwakar had appointed the Court Commissioner after five women plaintiffs linked to a right-wing group Vishwa Vedic Sanatan Sangh last year April filed a suit declaring that they were entitled to have daily darshan, pooja and perform all the rituals of Maa Shringar Gauri, Lord Ganesh, Lord Hanuman and other “visible and invisible deities within old temple complex” situated at settlement Plot No. 9130.

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