ASI to Survey Mosque Near Kashi Vishwanath Temple: Varanasi Court
The Court passed the order on a 30-year-old petition, which claimed that Aurangzab had demolished the temple
A Varanasi court on Thursday, 8 April, ordered the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct a physical survey of the Gyanvapi Mosque, located near the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, in the city.
A Civil Judge (senior division) of the Varanasi Civil Court passed the order on a 30-year-old petition, which claimed that Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb had demolished a temple of Lord Vishweshwar and constructed a mosque over the ruins of the temple.
The plea was opposed by the Gyanvapi Mosque Management Committee.
The Court, however, asked the ASI to set up a “five-member committee of eminent persons who are experts and well-versed in archaeology”. “Two of the experts should preferably belong to the minority community,” the court ruled.
The ASI chief has also been asked to bring in an eminent person as an observer for the committee.
“The prime purpose of the Archaeological Survey will be to find out whether the religious structure standing at present at the ‘disputed site’ is a superimposition, alteration, addition, or if there is a structural overlapping of any kind, with or over, any other religious structure.”Civil Judge (senior division), Varanasi Civil Court
Court’s Instructions to ASI
The committee has further been asked to also trace “whether any temple belonging to the Hindu community ever existed before the mosque in question was built or superimposed or added upon it at the 'disputed' site”.
The court has handed out the following instructions, among others:
- During the survey, artefacts must be properly preserved.
- While conducting the survey, the committee must ensure that Muslims are not prevented from offering namaz at the disputed site. But the Court also added that, if the same is not practical due to the survey work, the Committee shall provide Muslims an alternative, suitable place to offer namaz at any other place within the precincts of the Mosque.
- The panel, the court said, is expected to be aware of the sensitivity of the matter and must ensure that both Hindus and Muslims are equally respected.
- After the survey is complete, the Committee's report should be submitted in a sealed cover without undue delay.
(With inputs from Bar and Bench and NDTV.)
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