Gyanvapi case: Rift widens between Shringar Gauri plaintiffs

Court reserves order on conducting carbon dating test

Carbon Dating Test
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A Varanasi court has reserved order in connection with a plea moved by four Hindu women demanding carbon dating of the structure unearthed from the Wazu Khana (ablution tank) of the Gyanvapi mosque. The structure, which the Hindu petitioners claim is a “Shivling” and the mosque management committee insists is just an old fountain, was unearthed after a videographic survey of the mosque in May this year. The order is expected to be delivered on October 7.

The petitioners demanding carbon dating of the “Shivling” are all plaintiffs in the wider Shringar Gauri case where they had demanded the right to resume prayers at the temple of the deity Shringar Gauri located along the wall of the mosque, claiming daily prayers had been held there till they were discontinued in 1993.

But what is interesting in the carbon dating case is that Rakhi Singh, one of the five original petitioners in the Shringar Gauri case, is opposed to this carbon dating test, as is the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid (AIM), which is the Gyanvapi mosque management authority.

According to The New Indian Express, Singh is opposed to carbon dating the “Shivling” as she fears that the procedure could damage the structure. She further contends such a test could hurt sentiments of devotees as they believe that “Gods had no age and it could not be ascertained through any procedure.”

Meanwhile, the Times of India quoted AIM lawyer Ekhlaq Ahmed as saying, “Carbon-dating is done of remains of living beings, which absorb carbon and not of stone.” He further opposed the plea for carbon dating saying, “Until the court commission report on the survey of Gyanvapi is disposed, the demand is premature as the claim on ‘shivling’ is false as it is a fountain.”

It is noteworthy that initially, Singh along with Rekha Pathak, Sita Sahu, Manju Vyas and Laxmi Devi, was one of the five original petitioners in the Shringar Gauri case. But she parted ways later, following a disagreement over the primary demand in the case. The other four petitioners had clarified that they merely wanted a resumption of daily prayer services.

Readers would recall that Rakhi Singh’s husband Jitendra Singh ‘Visen’, who heads the Vishwa Vaidik Sanatan Sangh (VVSS), had accused advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain, who represents the other four plaintiffs, of siding with the Muslim defendants in the case. He had pointed out that Advocate Jain is associated with the Indian Islamic Cultural Centre. According to Visen, this makes Jain sympathetic to the Muslim defendants and thus unfit to represent Hindu petitioners. In fact, VVSS is a petitioner in a parallel case being heard by the fast-track court of civil judge (senior division) Mahendra Kumar Pandey. This second case pertains to restricting Muslim devotees from accessing the mosque, and beginning prayers as per Hindu tradition at the site.

Readers would recall that on September 12, the court of district judge Ajay Krishna Vishvesha had dismissed a plea by the AIM challenging the maintainability of the suit filed by Hindu petitioners who had demanded that they be allowed to offer prayers at the temple of deity Shringar Gauri located on the mosque premises. The court had ruled that Order 7 Rule 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure was not applicable in this case, and therefore the suit was maintainable. This is also significant because the four women petitioners had reiterated that they merely wanted a resumption of daily prayers at the Shringar Gauri temple.    

Following this, the court resumed hearing the matter afresh. On September 22, four out of the five original petitioners moved a plea through their lawyer Vishnu Shakar Jain, seeking directions to conduct a carbon dating test on the structure recovered from the Wazu Khana. They claim that the structure is a “Shivling” (a symbol representing the Hindu deity Shiva and considered holy by Hindus), and therefore proof that it was part of a Hindu temple that had existed on the site prior to the construction of the mosque. Meanwhile, the mosque management committee had dismissed the structure as part of a defunct fountain. Two mahants associated with the Kashi Vishwanath temple had also debunked the “Shivling” claims.

On September 29, the court reserved its order with respect to the carbon dating matter and is expected to deliver its verdict on October 7.

It is also noteworthy that this is not the first time a plea has been moved to conduct scientific tests on the “Shivling”. Readers would recall that in July this year, seven Hindu women including an advocate, a professor and five social workers, all represented by advocate Vishnu Jain had moved Supreme Court demanding carbon dating of the structure discovered during the video survey. The petitioners had also demanded a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey of the area. Further, they sought directions from the Supreme Court to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple Trust to take over the “Shivling” and the adjacent area, claiming that the deity had dominion over five kos or 15 kilometers of peripheral land.

But on July 21, a bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant and PS Narasimha refused to entertain the petition, which was subsequently withdrawn with liberty to pursue suitable legal recourse.


Gyanvapi case: Petitioner moves caveat before Allahabad High Court
Gyanvapi case: Court dismisses mosque committee’s plea challenging maintainability of suit
Gyanvapi case: Plea before SC for carbon dating of “Shivling”



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