Puja in Gyanvapi: Mosque Committee announces bandh, Shahr Mufti Batin Nomani appeals for peace

Late night puja facilitated by the district administration on February 1 resulted in a call for a bandh in minority areas of Varanasi (Banaras) on Friday even as the Shahar Mufti Abdul Batin Nomani called for peace and calm

With the undue haste with which the district magistrate of Varanasi (Kashi) has allowed the prayers (puja) inside the historic Gyan Vapi masjid (mosque, despite a weeks time “suggested” by the courts, the Mosque Committee (Anjuman Arrangement Committee) called for a bandh that today, until 2 p.m. was completely successful in minority areas and peaceful. Speaking to Sabrangindia from the various spots in the city, local Muslims spoke of the anguish and anxiety the are living through. “Prayers” were allowed in the basement of the historic mosque on the banks of the Ganga Thursday evening.

The prime minister’s constituency of Varanasi has now been converted into a city of cantonments with paramilitary and police deployed at several spots especially the areas around the Gyanvapi Masjid and Kashi Vishwanath temple. A high alert has been declared throughout Varanasi and forces from three districts have also been called.

On Friday, the Shahar Mufti of the city, Abdul Batin Nomani issued a sober and strong message for peace and restraint. Expressing anguish at recent developments in the area of politics and the judiciary, Batin spoke of the need to keep calm as this is a test of the fates for the Muslim community in general. He said Muslims in Banaras (Varanasi) and all over India were both anxious and pained by recent developments. Mufti Batin spoke to Sabrangindia too and relayed the pain and anguish being felt by the entire minority community.

Meanwhile, according to media reports, the Mosque Arrangement Committee has appealed to keep markets closed in minority areas today in protest against the worship in the basement of Vyapi. The Mosque Arrangement Committee has said that people should keep shops closed today and offer Namaz peacefully in their areas. In view of the announcement of Banaras bandh, the police have also become alert. A flag march was also conducted by the force on Thursday. Police forces of Ghazipur, Chandauli and Jaunpur along with three companies’ PAC, RAF have been deployed.

The statement states that the current crisis of the Gyan Vapi Mosque has been brought about by the justice system. The statement recalled when, the dispute, being heard for over two-three years suddenly reached a stage that the court, on August 28, 2023 asked whether there could be “out of court settlement”. After this, when, five months later, on January 31, a few hours before the retirement of the judge in question, an order that amounted to snatching away justice from one party was passed, overnight on February 1, the barricading in place ordered by constitutional officers in the Supreme Court were pulled down.

The statement goes on to elaborate, “The foundation of this barricading was laid by giving an affidavit in the court and in the dark of night, the idols were admitted to the southern basement of the mosque.”

Further, in anguish the Mosque Committee adds, “These old eyes also saw an upsetting day for the Indian justice system. This is a big test for the Constitution and those who believe in the Constitution. We are facing many hurdles in search of justice. The Supreme Court has washed its hands off such an important issue by sending it to the High Court. But here we would definitely like to ask those who took the oath of the Constitution, whether they would have shown the same promptness in implementing the decision of the Supreme Court regarding Namaz in Tilbhandeshwar Mosque and would have given orders on the petition of District Judge Mukhtar Ansari before retirement?” The statement has been issued by S M Yasin Joint Secretary Anjuman Masajid”

Special vigil in Muslim areas

Special caution is being taken in Muslim dominated areas. Eye force and PAC have been deployed from outside for patrolling. RAF has been deployed in highly sensitive areas. Police officers have been instructed to ensure deployment of adequate number of forces outside all mosques, big and small. It has also been said that no crowd should be allowed to gather outside any religious place.

Hearing in High Court on appeal of Muslim side today

Meanwhile, a challenge has been filed in the Allahabad High Court by the Muslim side against the decision of giving the right to worship in Vyas ji’s basement. Hearing in this matter may take place today. A caveat has also been filed by the Hindu side saying that their side should also be heard. This appeal has at the time of going to press rejected any interim stay on the Puja inside the Gyan Vapi Masjid and merely directed the government “to maintain law and order.”


District Judge Dr. Ajay Krishna Vishwesh, who was hearing the Gyanvapi case of Varanasi, had given the verdict in the Gyanvapi case on the day of his retirement. In 2016, a petition was filed in the District Judge’s court regarding the authority for worship in the basement of Gyanvapi. On this petition, the arguments of both the parties in this case were completed in the court of District Judge Dr. Ajay Krishna Vishwesh on January 30. On January 31, District Judge Dr. Ajay Krishna Vishwesh gave the Hindu side the right to worship in the basement of Vyasji.

The party of rightwing Hindus represented by lawyer Madan Mohan Yadav, while talking to PTI-Bhasha, confirmed this and said that the court of District Judge Ajay Krishna Vishwesh has given the right to perform puja in the basement to one Shailendra Pathak. He told that the administration will make arrangements to conduct the puja within seven days. Kashi Vishwanath Trust will do the work of conducting the puja.

Sabrang India had talked to Mufti Banaras Batin Saab regarding this matter. He had said that our lawyers are studying the survey report. The reply will be filed in the court when the time comes. Regarding the news of chaos that came from Gyanvapi on the first Friday after the release of the survey report, he said that like every time, Namaz was offered here regularly but fifty people from the media reached there regarding the survey report and from the mosque. He forcibly stopped the people coming out and started gathering their reaction. During this, he created such a scene as if a fight had taken place. But all the Namazis were asking him not to talk to them and asking him to leave the path. He said that the media is presenting the report itself as a verdict, which is wrong according to the principles and standards of journalism.

Banaras District Judge Dr. Ajay Krishna Vishwesh had said that if there is any objection in the survey report, both the parties can file it in the court by February 6, 2024. Last year, on December 18, 2023, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had submitted the survey report in a sealed envelope in the District Court. Commissioner survey was conducted in Gyanvapi Masjid in May 2022. Last year, a survey was conducted by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The Hindu side had demanded the court to make the survey report public, but the Muslim side had objected to it. However, the Muslim side had also demanded a certified copy of the survey report. When this matter was heard in the Varanasi District Court on January 24, 2024, the District Judge ruled to give hard copies of the survey report to all the parties.


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