Masjid Committee Apprehends Damage to Gyanvapi Mosque During Survey

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PRAYAGRAJ — The management committee of the Gyanvapi mosque has apprehended that the historic structure may fall during the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) survey.

Seeking a stay on the ASI survey, the committee on Wednesday said in Allahabad High Court that Gyanvapi mosque has stood at the place, next to the iconic Kashi Vishwanath temple, for 1,000 years now.

This prompted a sharp response from the court, which asked the petitioners how they will trust the court’s ruling that if they cannot trust the ASI’s assurances that there will no damage to the structure.

The Hindu side submitted that it trusts a survey similar to one that happened in the Ayodhya’s Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi case in Ayodhya but the mosque committee said the circumstances in the AYodhya case were different and there cannot be a comparison with it.

“The talk of a temple under Gyanvapi mosque is fictional,” the petitioners’ counsel said, adding that imagination cannot be the basis for allowing a survey by the ASI.

The Hindu side has claimed that a temple constructed at the site in 1585 on the orders of Raja Todarmal but was demolished in 1669.

A group of Hindu women have now sought permission to worship the deities there, they said.

The mosque committee said that the women petitioners had told a lower court that they do not have proof of the presence of Hindu deities inside the mosque complex and that the ASI must gather them.

“This cannot be allowed. You cannot ask someone else to gather proof. This is illegal,” they said while challenging the lower court’s direction for the survey.

The Hindu side said that an ASI survey can be seen as an expert opinion.

When the court asked the Hindu side if excavation was necessary, its counsel said: “Yes, but this won’t be inside the mosque. ASI will do radar mapping. Excavation will also be conducted if circumstances demand, that too in the last stage.”

Following the Hindu side’s submissions on how this excavation will be conducted, the court said: “Either you videograph the survey or submit that there will be no damage to the mosque.”

The Hindu side’s counsel agreed to this.

The court also responded sharply to the mosque committee’s submission that the Hindu side’s lawyer would be responsible if the structure falls.

To the Hindu side’s assurances that no survey will be held in the area sealed under orders from Supreme Court, the mosque committee said that area will also suffer damage if the survey is conducted.

On their submission that the structure won’t be damaged, he asked: “Are you going to drill or is it like a vacuum cleaner? Have you ever done this work earlier?”

When the ASI said they have, the Chief Justice asked if there are photos of those projects.

“The court is putting strong doubts to the work to be carried out by you,” he said.

The court will resume the hearing at 4.30 p.m. — IANS

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