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Court nod for videography inside Gyanvapi mosque premises

By Omar Rashid

A Varanasi court on Thursday gave its consent for videography inside the Gyanvapi mosque premises by an advocate commissioner on a petition filed by five Hindu plaintiffs demanding daily access to a Hindu site Maa Shringar Gauri for prayers, claimed by them to be located outside the western wall of the mosque.

The court rejected the mosque committee’s demand to replace advocate commissioner Ajay Kumar Mishra. The committee had accused him of being “biased” in favour of the Hindu plaintiffs but the court found no merit in their argument.

 Also, the court appointed two more advocate commissioners — special advocate commissioner Vishal Singh and assistant advocate commissioner Ajay Pratap Singh — to assist Mr. Mishra in the videography. The commission should complete its inspection and submit a report to the court by May 17, the judge said, after it heard applications from both sides.

‘Inspection won’t stop’

The advocate commissioner would be “independent” in conducting the videography and clicking photos as per the pointers suggested by the plaintiffs, said civil judge (senior division) Ravi Kumar Diwakar. The process of inspection would not be stopped under any condition whether any of the parties co-operate or not, said the judge.

The Hindu plaintiffs had demanded that the advocate commissioner be allowed to conduct videography inside the premises of the Gyanvapi mosque and its tehkhana (cellar), even if it meant breaking its lock. However, the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid, the caretakers of the mosque, had vehemently objected to this, both in court and on spot, following which the advocate commissioner-led video inspection was halted on the first day, May 6.

Judge Diwakar, in his order, said the district administration had the full right to open or break the lock if a barrier was created at any place during inspection. “If anyone creates any hindrance, like if there are locks at some places, then the district administration will have the full right to get the locks opened or broken for the commission’s action,” said the court.

While the mosque committee had submitted that the Maa Shringar Gauri site as claimed by the plaintiffs was outside the western wall of the mosque and hence no videography was needed inside the mosque, the court said the commission’s report would make it clear where Shringar Gauri was located.

Judge Diwakar ordered that the process of inspection would continue daily from 8 a.m. to 12 noon and directed the Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh and the Director-General of Police to supervise the process so that local officials do not find any reason to defer the exercise.

FIR against obstructors

The court also directed that a First Information Report (FIR) be lodged against those who hinder the process of videography. The District Magistrate of Varanasi and the Commissioner, Varanasi were directed to complete the process of inspection as their personal responsibility.

Shivam Gaur, a lawyer for the Hindu plaintiffs, said now they could go anywhere in the mosque premises and if needed also break the lock for videography.

Abhay Nath Yadav, lawyer for the mosque committee, said he was dissatisfied with the court order. “Our pleas and the legal provisions submitted by us were not allowed or rejected by the court,” he said.

Mr. Yadav also questioned that when the property 9130 had not been identified and no boundaries defined, how could the court appoint a commission.

Judge Diwakar had appointed the court commissioner after five women plaintiffs linked to a right-wing group Vishwa Vedic Sanatan Sangh filed a suit last April claiming that they were entitled to have daily darshan, pooja and perform all the rituals of Maa Shringar Gauri, Lord Ganesh, Lord Hanuman and other “visible and invisible deities within the old temple complex” situated at settlement plot no 9130 in the Dashwamedh ward area.

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Dive Deeper:
Varanasi court to decide on survey inside Gyanvapi mosque
The court will also decide if advocate commissioner will be replaced.
Videography survey resumes at Gyanvapi mosque
The videography survey of the Gyanvapi Masjid complex in Varanasi resumed on Saturday amid tight security arrangements, officials said. Read…
Basement of Gyanvapi mosque inspected by court-monitored Commissioner
The Commission should complete its inspection and submit a report in court by May 17, ordered civil judge senior division…
Supreme Court refuses to stop Gyanvapi Mosque survey
The bench, however, refused to grant status quo in the case saying that it was not aware of what the…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Gyanvapi Mosque: Day 1 survey concludes; videography to resume tomorrow
The survey work went on in a peaceful manner and there has been no objection from anyone. Full report on…
Varanasi: Survey of Gyanvapi complex's basement, western wall completed
VARANASI: A 54-member team, led by advocate commissioner Ajay Kumar Mishra, conducted the survey of the Gyanvapi complex basement and…
Get all your news in one place