Basement of Gyanvapi mosque inspected by court-monitored Commissioner
Following a court nod for videography inside the Gyanvapi mosque, around 50% of the court-mandated video inspection of the mosque premises was completed peacefully on the first day of the proceedings on Saturday.
The court commission team inspected four rooms in the basement of the mosque and had to break the lock of one of the rooms as it had rusted, said Sayin Yasin, joint secretary of the Anjuman Intezamia Masajid, the caretaker of the masjid.
“One lock was rusted because it had not been opened for long. It had to be broken. We broke it willingly. And replaced it,” Mr. Yasin told The Hindu.
Mr. Yasin said the video inspection, which lasted four hours, led by a court commissioner, took place in a peaceful manner and everyone was cooperative. “I am totally satisfied [with the proceedings of the first day],” he said adding that on Sunday, the video inspection would continue with the teams inspecting the mosque and its roof.
“All sides were satisfied with [the proceedings]. All sides followed the orders of the court,” said District Magistrate (DM) of Varanasi, Kaushal Raj Sharma, adding that 50% of the survey was completed on the first day. The proceedings started at 8 a.m. and went on till noon, as directed by a local court.
All sides, their advocates as well as the assistants were present during the inspection along with the representatives of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple Trust, the state government, district administration and Varanasi Commissioner, said the DM.
The Commission should complete its inspection and submit a report in court by May 17, ordered civil judge senior division Ravi Kumar Diwakar on Thursday.
Judge Diwakar had appointed the court Commissioner after five women plaintiffs linked to a right-wing group Vishwa Vedic Sanatan Sangh last year April filed a suit declaring 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 old temple complex” situated at settlement Plot No 9130.
Since the court-monitored inspection was mandated to be a confidential one, no details of which areas were surveyed and what was found would be shared, said the DM.
While saying that all the evidence was confidential and could not be disclosed, Subhash Ranjan Chaturvedi, lawyer for the Hindu petitioners, stated, “All the evidence was in our favour.”
The court on Thursday had given 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 prayer to a Hindu site Maa Shringar Gauri, which they said was located outside the western wall of the mosque.
The court had earlier rejected the mosque committee’s demand to replace the advocate commissioner Ajay Kumar Mishra. The mosque committee had accused him of being “biased” in favour of the Hindu plaintiffs but the court found no merit in their argument.
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 its first day, May 6.
Judge Diwakar in his order said the district administration had the full right to open or break 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.