Gyanvapi mosque row: Survey reaches 65% completion, exercise to continue on Monday'

The mosque is located close to the iconic Kashi Vishwanath temple and the local court is hearing a plea by a group of women seeking permission for daily prayers before the idols on its outer walls

May 15, 2022 10:54 pm | Updated 10:54 pm IST - Varanasi

View of Kashi Vishwanath Temple Dham and Gyanvapi Masjid complex, in Varanasi.  File photo

View of Kashi Vishwanath Temple Dham and Gyanvapi Masjid complex, in Varanasi. File photo | Photo Credit: PTI

A court-mandated videography survey of the Gyanvapi Masjid complex in Varanasi was carried out peacefully for the second consecutive day on May 15, with the major part of the exercise said to have been completed.

The survey, which was stalled last week amid objections by the mosque management committee, which claimed that the advocate commissioner appointed by the court for the survey did not have the mandate to film inside the premises, will continue on May 16.

The mosque is located close to the iconic Kashi Vishwanath temple and the local court is hearing a plea by a group of women seeking permission for daily prayers before the idols on its outer walls.

The survey was carried out from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. amid tight security.

Elaborating further on the survey and day’s development, Varanasi’s district magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma told PTI, “In the presence of three court commissioners along with all the parties, the court commission started its work at 8 a.m., and it continued till noon. All the parties followed the court orders. The court commission, after completing today’s work, decided that work will continue on May 15 as well.”

The district magistrate added that the work will begin at 8 a.m on May 16 and all the parties have been directed to remain present.

Mr. Sharma said that as per the directions of the court commission, adequate facilities, including resources to provide light, videographers and photographers of the information department, draftsman, revenue staff of the tehsil and labour were provided.

Referring to the security set-up, he said, “Tight security arrangements were made. The devotees at the Kashi Vishwanath Temple were given entry through Dhoondi Raj Ganesh and Ganga Nadi ‘dwaar’.”

"About 65% of the survey work has been completed today. This is completely an archaeological survey work, Since the advocates were not familiar with the survey work, the work took some time (today)," Madan Mohan Yadav, the counsel for the Hindu side in the case, said.

Varanasi police commissioner A. Satish Ganesh told PTI that "Deployment (of security forces) has been made on the same scale as it was made on May 14. Attention has also been paid to ensure that devotees visiting nearby areas do not face any problem (due to the survey)."

"Our responsibility is that an ideal atmosphere is established so that the court procedure can proceed without any hindrance," the police commissioner added.

Mr. Sharma said, “Survey of more than 50% of the place has been done. The survey work is confidential and is being done under the monitoring of the court. So, information regarding the places where the survey was done and what was found cannot be shared now.”

In his order on May 12, District Civil Judge (Senior Division) Ravi Kumar Diwakar had turned down a plea by the mosque committee to replace Ajay Kumar Mishra, who was appointed advocate commissioner by the court to survey the Gyanvapi-Gauri Shringar complex.

The judge also appointed two more advocates to help the court commissioner with the survey and said it should be completed by May 17.

The district court had said that locks should be broken if the keys are not available to access certain areas of the complex for the survey. It also asked district authorities to register FIRs if the survey was not allowed.

The Supreme Court had on May 13 last refused to grant an interim order of status quo on the survey. The top court, however, agreed to consider listing the plea of a Muslim party against the survey.

Advocate Yadav had said the three court-appointed advocate commissioners, five lawyers each from the two sides and an assistant besides a videography team will carry out the survey.

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