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Shivling ‘found’ on Gyanvapi mosque premises, court orders area sealed

Video survey over, lawyers of petitioners claim that the shivling was found in the wazu khana

Sabrangindia 16 May 2022

Gyanvapi

On Monday, the authorities conducting video survey of the Gyanvapi mosque concluded their proceedings, following which the advocate representing the Hindu petitioners in the case moved an application before the court of the Civil Judge (Senior Division) saying that a Shivling, stone sculpture considered holy by Hindus, was discovered on the premises. Responding to the application, the judge immediately ordered the area sealed.

While advocate Vishnu Jain claimed the Shivling was found in a well, another advocate Madan Mohan Yadav claimed it was facing Nandi (a statue of a holy cow).  Details of the survey’s findings were to be submitted to the court by May 17 and have not been made public so far. In fact, when India Today probed the videographer, he simply said that he was not allowed to divulge any details.

The Indian Express quoted an excerpt of the order passed by Judge Ravi Kumar Diwakar as saying, “District Magistrate, Varanasi, is directed to immediately seal the place where the Shivling has been found. No person should be allowed to enter the place which will be sealed. The responsibility for the security and custodianship of the place which will be sealed will be considered personally of Varanasi district magistrate, Varanasi police commissioner and the CRPF commandant, Varanasi.”

Responsibility was placed on the Director General of Police (DGP) of Uttar Pradesh, and the Chief Secretary of the state to supervise the sealing.  

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a plea by the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid (AIM), which is the mosque management authority, for a stay on the survey on Tuesday May 17. A bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud will hear the matter.

Brief background of the case

The petitioners, four Hindu women, (originally five, but one withdrew from the case), had moved court originally in August 2021, demanding that the Maa Shringar Gauri Temple be reopened, and people be allowed to offer prayers before the idols that are still kept there. The petitioners cited the right to practice one’s faith and religious freedom guaranteed by Article 25 of the Constitution.

On April 8, 2022, Civil Judge (Senior Division), Varanasi, Ravi Kumar Diwakar had appointed Advocate Commissioner Ajai Kumar to carry out the survey and asked him to submit a report at the next hearing on May 10. It is noteworthy that this is distinct from the survey by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI), as that was stayed by the Allahabad High Court. The authorities began conducting the video survey on May 5.

But the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid (AIM), which is the mosque management authority, opposed this and moved court. However, their petition against the survey was dismissed by the Allahabad High Court on April 21. The lower court in Varanasi, on April 26, then again passed an order to carry out the survey, though now it appears that there was some ambiguity about where the survey could be conducted, specifically if it could be conducted inside the temple that is located on mosque land that is a Wakf property. The mosque authorities raised concerns as they claim this violates the principle of non-retrogression under the Places of Worship Act. But the petitioners say the same law would be applicable if it is discovered that there was originally a temple on the mosque and therefore the survey is important.

The AIM opposed videography inside the mosque and also alleged that Advocate Commissioner Ajai Kumar was “biased”. They moved court again on May 7. Hearings took place on May 10 and 11 following which the court ordered on May 12 that while it will not replace or remove Ajai Kumar as Advocate Commissioner, it will appoint two more Advocate Commissioners to conduct the survey and submit a report by May 17. The court said, “The survey will be conducted in Gyanvapi mosque and the entire barricaded area. Authorities will photograph and videograph the area. District authorities are ordered to open/break the lock of the basement and allow videography there as well.”

Related:

Gyanvapi case: Two more advocate commissioners added to Shringar Gauri survey team

Gyanvapi case: Court to pronounce order in Shringar Gauri temple survey matter today

Gyanvapi case: One out of five withdrawing name from Maa Shringar Gauri temple petition?

Gyanvapi case: Videographic survey of Maa Shringar Gauri temple begins

Gyanvapi case: Allahabad HC stays ASI survey, proceedings before lower court

Gyanvapi case: Varanasi court to hear petition to hold prayers in Shringar Gauri temple

Shivling ‘found’ on Gyanvapi mosque premises, court orders area sealed

Video survey over, lawyers of petitioners claim that the shivling was found in the wazu khana

Gyanvapi

On Monday, the authorities conducting video survey of the Gyanvapi mosque concluded their proceedings, following which the advocate representing the Hindu petitioners in the case moved an application before the court of the Civil Judge (Senior Division) saying that a Shivling, stone sculpture considered holy by Hindus, was discovered on the premises. Responding to the application, the judge immediately ordered the area sealed.

While advocate Vishnu Jain claimed the Shivling was found in a well, another advocate Madan Mohan Yadav claimed it was facing Nandi (a statue of a holy cow).  Details of the survey’s findings were to be submitted to the court by May 17 and have not been made public so far. In fact, when India Today probed the videographer, he simply said that he was not allowed to divulge any details.

The Indian Express quoted an excerpt of the order passed by Judge Ravi Kumar Diwakar as saying, “District Magistrate, Varanasi, is directed to immediately seal the place where the Shivling has been found. No person should be allowed to enter the place which will be sealed. The responsibility for the security and custodianship of the place which will be sealed will be considered personally of Varanasi district magistrate, Varanasi police commissioner and the CRPF commandant, Varanasi.”

Responsibility was placed on the Director General of Police (DGP) of Uttar Pradesh, and the Chief Secretary of the state to supervise the sealing.  

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a plea by the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid (AIM), which is the mosque management authority, for a stay on the survey on Tuesday May 17. A bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud will hear the matter.

Brief background of the case

The petitioners, four Hindu women, (originally five, but one withdrew from the case), had moved court originally in August 2021, demanding that the Maa Shringar Gauri Temple be reopened, and people be allowed to offer prayers before the idols that are still kept there. The petitioners cited the right to practice one’s faith and religious freedom guaranteed by Article 25 of the Constitution.

On April 8, 2022, Civil Judge (Senior Division), Varanasi, Ravi Kumar Diwakar had appointed Advocate Commissioner Ajai Kumar to carry out the survey and asked him to submit a report at the next hearing on May 10. It is noteworthy that this is distinct from the survey by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI), as that was stayed by the Allahabad High Court. The authorities began conducting the video survey on May 5.

But the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid (AIM), which is the mosque management authority, opposed this and moved court. However, their petition against the survey was dismissed by the Allahabad High Court on April 21. The lower court in Varanasi, on April 26, then again passed an order to carry out the survey, though now it appears that there was some ambiguity about where the survey could be conducted, specifically if it could be conducted inside the temple that is located on mosque land that is a Wakf property. The mosque authorities raised concerns as they claim this violates the principle of non-retrogression under the Places of Worship Act. But the petitioners say the same law would be applicable if it is discovered that there was originally a temple on the mosque and therefore the survey is important.

The AIM opposed videography inside the mosque and also alleged that Advocate Commissioner Ajai Kumar was “biased”. They moved court again on May 7. Hearings took place on May 10 and 11 following which the court ordered on May 12 that while it will not replace or remove Ajai Kumar as Advocate Commissioner, it will appoint two more Advocate Commissioners to conduct the survey and submit a report by May 17. The court said, “The survey will be conducted in Gyanvapi mosque and the entire barricaded area. Authorities will photograph and videograph the area. District authorities are ordered to open/break the lock of the basement and allow videography there as well.”

Related:

Gyanvapi case: Two more advocate commissioners added to Shringar Gauri survey team

Gyanvapi case: Court to pronounce order in Shringar Gauri temple survey matter today

Gyanvapi case: One out of five withdrawing name from Maa Shringar Gauri temple petition?

Gyanvapi case: Videographic survey of Maa Shringar Gauri temple begins

Gyanvapi case: Allahabad HC stays ASI survey, proceedings before lower court

Gyanvapi case: Varanasi court to hear petition to hold prayers in Shringar Gauri temple

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