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Hindu temple structure existed at Gyanvapi mosque complex: ASI report

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) report has indicated the presence of a large Hindu temple structure at the Gyanvapi mosque complex in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

Hindu temple structure existed at Gyanvapi mosque complex: ASI report
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First Published Jan 25, 2024, 11:08 PM IST

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has uncovered evidence suggesting the existence of a large Hindu temple structure at the Gyanvapi mosque complex in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain, representing the Hindu side, shared details from the survey report on Thursday, emphasizing the ASI's conclusive finding.

Jain stated, "The ASI has said that there existed a large Hindu Temple prior to the construction of the existing structure." The ASI findings indicate that modifications were made to the mosque, involving the reuse of pillars and plaster with minor alterations. Jain revealed that some pillars from the Hindu temple were slightly modified for use in the new structure, and attempts were made to remove carvings on the pillars, according to the ASI report.

The focal point of the conflict lies in a structure discovered on the premises during a court-mandated survey next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple. While the Hindu side claims it to be a 'Shivling,' the Muslim side contends it to be a fountain. The 'Wazu' area, where the structure was found, had been sealed in 2022 following a Supreme Court order after the discovery of the purported Shivling.

Following a district court order in July 2023, the ASI conducted a scientific survey of the Gyanvapi premises to ascertain whether the mosque was constructed over a pre-existing structure of a Hindu temple.

Advocate Jain expressed confidence in the upcoming developments, stating, "I am confident that we will be able to see the day when Gyanvapi will be free of this illegal encroachment," referring to the ASI survey report. The 'Wazu' area remains at the center of the dispute, with both sides staking their claims based on the court-mandated survey.

Eleven individuals, including representatives from both the Hindu and Muslim sides, have applied for copies of the ASI survey report. The applicants are expected to receive the report after a scrutiny of the applications, possibly on Thursday or Monday, as reported by counsel for the Hindu litigants, Madan Mohan Yadav.

In response to a Varanasi district court directive, the ASI report is set to be made public, with hard copies provided to both sides. Advocate Hari Shankar Jain, the counsel for the Hindu side, asserted that there is evidence indicating the demolition of a temple to make way for the construction of the mosque. Reading from the report, Jain highlighted inscriptions on the stone of a pre-existing Hindu temple, reused during the construction and repair of the existing structure.

The Supreme Court, on January 16, allowed an application by women Hindu petitioners, directing the cleaning of the entire 'wazukhana' area of the Gyanvapi mosque, where the alleged 'Shivling' was found, ensuring a 'hygienic' state for the space. The 'wazukhana' area had been sealed in 2022 following a Supreme Court order after the discovery of the purported Shivling. The structure claimed to be a 'Shivling' by the Hindu side and a 'fountain' by the Muslim side, was found during a court-mandated survey on May 16, 2022.

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