Mosque panel gives land for Kashi temple corridor in exchange deal

Constructin work is in full swing near Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi mosque complex at Varanasi. File   | Photo Credit: RAJEEV BHATT

The Gyanvapi Masjid committee in Varanasi said it had handed over a 1,700 sq feet separate plot of land in the periphery of the Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi Masjid complex for the under-construction Kashi Vishwanath Temple Corridor project on the request of the administration in exchange of another plot.

Sayid Yasin, joint secretary of the Anjuma Intejamia Masajid, the caretaker of the masjid, told The Hindu on Friday that it was done as a “goodwill gesture” but a senior official of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple Trust described it as simply an exchange of plots.

In lieu of the plot, which is separate from the land on which the mosque is situated, the mosque committee received a smaller 1,000 sq feet plot at a distance of 100 mts at Bansphatak, Mr. Yasin said. The registry for the land was done on July 8 and the land was handed over subsequently, he added.

Chief Executive Officer of Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Trust Sunil Verma said the “exchange” deal was carried out with the Uttar Sunni Central Waqf Board. “It has nothing to do with the mosque. It [the plot] was outside the periphery of the mosque,” Mr. Verma said.

Land to value rule

Explaining the difference in sizes of the two plots exchanged, Mr. Verma said the exchange was done as per the value of the land, and not the size. The exchange of land rule was based on land to value, he said. In monetary value, both lands were equal, he stressed.

Mr. Yasin said the mosque committee had three plots in the complex. One housed the mosque; the second had a common passage for both Hindu and Muslim devotees and the third (plot no. 8276) had a police control room built on it for the security of the two sites.

He said the control room came up as a security measure following the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992.

However, since the Kashi Vishwanath Temple Corridor was coming up near the complex, it was felt that a bigger security setup would be required at the location, he said.

“The passage that leads to the temple was not big enough,” he said.

Mr. Verma, however, argued that the plot was surrounded by the temple property on all four sides. It would remain open, he said, when asked about the plans of construction on the plot.

Mr. Yasin said though the property belonged to the Sunni Waqf Board, the mosque committee had entered into the exchange deed after the approval of the Board.

He also clarified that the land exchanged was a separate plot from the mosque.

Court order

It must be noted that a local court in Varanasi on April 8 had directed the Archaeological Survey of India to conduct a survey of the Gyanvapi Mosque compound adjacent to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple to find out whether it was a “superimposition, alteration or addition or there is structural overlapping of any kind, with or over, any other religious structure.”

The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board and the masjid committee had called the court decision unwarranted and argued that it was barred by the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991. The Places of Worship Act was upheld by a five- judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in the Ayodhya judgment.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2021 4:17:50 PM |

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