Varanasi court allows priest right to worship deities in Gyanvapi mosque cellar
VARANASI — The Varanasi district court on Wednesday granted a priest the right to worship Hindu deities in the Gyanvapi mosque cellar, Hindu side counsel Madan Mohan Yadav said.
The order was passed by judge A K Vishvesha who directed the district magistrate to make arrangements within seven days to facilitate puja there by Shailendra Kumar Pathak, Yadav said.
The prayers will be facilitated by the Kashi Vishwanath Trust, which manages the Kashi Vishwanath temple which stands adjacent to the mosque. Hindu litigants claim the mosque was built after demolishing a part of the temple.
According to the petition filed by Pathak, his maternal grandfather, priest Somnath Vyas, used to perform prayers there till 1993 when the cellar was closed by the authorities. Pathak had sought the right to worship the deities there.
Yadav said the barricades before the Nandi statue in front of the ‘wazu khana’ — where where ablutions are performed before offering namaz — in the mosque complex will be removed to make way for the petitioner to perform puja.
The Hindu side counsel said the puja of deities there was stopped during the rule of chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav in 1993 in response the Babari Mosque demolition on December 6, 1992.
The Muslim side has argued that the cellar is part of the mosque complex, and hence permission to perform puja there should not be granted.
Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) president Alok Kumar welcomed the court’s decision, saying, “Today, a court in Kashi has given a very important decision filling the hearts of every Hindu with joy.”
Kumar congratulated the Hindu society over the court’s decision and said, “We hope that after this, the court’s verdict on the Gyanvapi case will also come soon. We are confident that the decision will come in favour of Hindus based on evidence and facts.”
The Varanasi district court had on July 21 last year directed the ASI to conduct a “detailed scientific survey” — including excavations, wherever necessary — to determine if the mosque located next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple was built on the remains of a temple.
According to the Hindu side, the report of the scientific survey suggests the mosque was built on the remains of a pre-existing temple.