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BREAKING: New plea before Varanasi court seeks ASI survey of remaining cellars in Gyanvapi mosque premises

The petitioner is Rakhi Singh, one of the five plaintiffs involved in the ongoing Shringar Gauri Worshipping suit of 2022, which is currently under consideration by the Varanasi Court.

Gyanvapi case: New plea before Varanasi court seeks ASI survey of remaining cellars in mosque premises
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First Published Feb 5, 2024, 12:38 PM IST

A new plea has been submitted to the Varanasi Court, urging the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct an extensive survey of the remaining cellars (tehkhana) situated within the premises of the Gyanvapi Mosque. The petitioner is Rakhi Singh, one of the five plaintiffs involved in the ongoing Shringar Gauri Worshipping suit of 2022, which is currently under consideration by the Varanasi Court.

The plea comes days after the Allahabad High Court's refusal to grant an interim stay on the Varanasi court's order permitting Hindu prayers in the Gyanvapi mosque's cellar, known as Vyas Tehkhana, the Anjuman Intezamia Masajid Committee (AIMC) has been given time until February 6 to amend its pleadings. The AIMC, which contested the district court order related to the Gyanvapi mosque, will include a challenge to a January 17 order that led to the subsequent order on January 31. This development occurred during an appeal hearing in the Allahabad High Court, presided over by Justice Rohit Ranjan Agrawal.

The committee moved the high court swiftly after the Supreme Court directed them to approach the high court instead of hearing their plea against the Varanasi district court's order. The Varanasi court had recently ruled that a priest could conduct prayers before the idols in the southern cellar of the Gyanvapi mosque.

The court's decision came in the wake of four women plaintiffs approaching the Supreme Court, seeking excavation and a survey of the sealed section of the mosque. This plea was made in response to an Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) report, claiming the existence of a large Hindu temple before the construction of the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi.

The women argued that a proper understanding of the 'Shivling' could only be determined by removing artificial/modern walls/floors and conducting a survey of the sealed area through excavation and other scientific methods. Their plea emphasized the need for ASI intervention to undertake necessary excavation and use scientific methods to determine the nature of the Shivlingam without causing any damage to the object.

The broader dispute revolves around assertions by several Hindu activists who claim that a temple existed at the disputed Gyanvapi mosque site before being demolished in the 17th century on the orders of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. This claim is contested by the Muslim side.

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