Gyanvapi row: Varanasi court reserves verdict on plea seeking inclusion of ‘wazookhana’ in ASI survey

A Varanasi court on Thursday reserved till October 21 its order on a plea seeking inclusion of the Gyanvapi mosque’s “wazookhana” in the ongoing ASI survey of the mosque complex here.

At present, the “wazookhana” (a small reservoir for Muslim devotees to perform ritual ablutions), where a structure claimed by Hindu litigants to be a ‘Shivling’ exists, is not part of the survey by the Archeological Survey of India due to a Supreme Court order protecting that spot in the complex.

The plea was filed by Rakhi Singh, one of the petitioners in Varanasi’s Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri case, in the district court.

“While completing the hearing today on the petition, District Judge AK Vishvesh reserved its order till October 21,” District Government Counsel Rajesh Mishra said.

Meanwhile, in a related case, District Judge Vishvesh ordered to move the hearing of a ‘transfer’ plea, seeking handing over of keys of a basement at the Gyanvapi complex to the Varanasi district magistrate, to his court from the court of civil judge (senior division).

Earlier, during the hearing in the wazookhana case, Hindu side’s advocate Madan Mohan Yadav said it was argued that without the survey of wazookhana, the truth of Gyanvapi complex cannot be revealed.

The mosque management committee, while presenting its objection to the argument, told the court that the area of the wazookhana was sealed on the orders of the Supreme Court and alleged that Hindu side made such a demand to put this matter on hold. Therefore, this demand of the Hindu side should not be accepted, the mosque committee said.

The ASI is carrying out a scientific survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex, next to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple here, to determine whether the 17th-century mosque was constructed over a pre-existing temple.

The ASI survey began in July after the Allahabad High Court upheld a Varanasi district court order and ruled that the step is “necessary in the interest of justice” and will benefit both the Hindu and Muslim sides.

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The mosque committee had also moved the Supreme Court against the high court’s order. The apex court had on August 4 refused to stay the high court’s order on the ASI survey.

In its order, the apex court, however, asked the ASI not to carry out any invasive act during the survey.

The ASI has been granted till November 6 to complete the survey of the mosque complex.

Meanwhile, District Government Counsel Mishra said that a petition regarding handing over of keys of a basement at the Gyanvapi mosque complex to the Varanasi district magistrate was filed in the court of Civil Judge (Senior Division) Nitesh Kumar Sinha in September.

“A plea to transfer the hearing of this case to the court of the district judge was filed later on the grounds that all the cases related to Gyanvapi are being heard there. District Judge AK Vishvesh today ordered that the matter will now be heard in his court,” Mishra said.

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