Hindu Side Moves SC for ASI Survey of ‘Shivling’ in Sealed area of Gyanvapi Mosque

Hindu women plaintiffs have moved the Supreme Court seeking direction to the Archeological Survey of India to determine the nature and associated features of a ‘Shivling’, claimed to have been found at Varanasi’s Gyanvapi mosque, in the sealed area.

In a separate application, the four Hindu women, who are the original plaintiffs in the suit pending before the Varanasi court, also sought vacation of the top court’s May 19, 2023, order by which it had deferred the scientific survey, including carbon dating, to determine the age of the ‘Shivling’ as directed by the Allahabad High Court on May 12, 2023.

The plaintiffs submitted that the exact nature of the ‘Shivling’ can be determined after removing the artificial/modern walls/floors surrounding it and by undertaking a survey of the entire sealed area by excavation and using other scientific methods.

The application filed through advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain said the direction be issued to the ASI to submit a report within the time provided by the court.

“It is submitted that for a proper and effective investigation, it is necessary that the ASI may be directed to undertake necessary excavation and use other scientific methods around the Shivlingam (being claimed by Muslims as a fountain) for determining the nature of Shivlingam and associated features without causing any damage to the object after removing artificial/modern walls/floors surrounding the Shivlingam,” it said.

The application said that such excavation/scientific prospection is required to find out the original structure of the ‘Shivlingam’ and its associated features.

The applications have been filed in the top court, days after an order of the Varanasi court which ruled that the ASI survey report on the Gyanvapi mosque complex adjoining the Kashi Vishwanath Temple here will be given to both the Hindu and Muslim sides.

Jain had later claimed that the report of a scientific survey by the ASI suggests the mosque was built on the remains of a pre-existing temple.

In the two applications, the women plaintiffs said that on the orders of the Varanasi civil court, the advocate commissioners conducted a survey during which on May 16, 2022, a big ‘Shivling’ under a pond was discovered.

The plaintiff said that on May 17, 2022, the top court had directed the District Magistrate of Varanasi to ensure the protection of the area inside the Gyanvapi mosque complex where ‘Shivling’ is said to be found in the survey.

“It is submitted that the Shivlingam found on May 16, 2022, is an object of worship for Hindus and devotees of Lord Shiva. The plaintiffs and the Hindus, in general, have every right to have Darshan and perform Pooja of Shivlingam found on May 16, 2022,” the application said.

It said that the plaintiffs had moved an application in the suit in the court of the district judge praying that the ASI be directed to undertake a scientific survey of the entire building excluding the sealed area.

“It is submitted that the survey of the entire premises has been conducted except the sealed area by the ASI and now it is necessary that the sealed area be also surveyed by the ASI, otherwise, the very purpose of the survey would be frustrated as there will be no report of the ASI regarding the area under seal,” the application said.

The plaintiffs said that the ‘Shivling’ found on May 16, 2022, is an object of worship for the devotees of Lord Shiva and the followers of ‘Sanatan Dharma’ in general.

“The devotees have every right to perform pooja, aarti, and bhog of the deity and such right cannot be denied to them,” the application said, adding that the core question involved in the matter in issue as to whether the object found by advocate commissioner on May 16, 2022, is a ‘Shivling’ or a fountain, can be proved only based on scientific investigation.

The ASI is the premier authority which can conduct scientific surveys of the entire sealed area, including the ‘Shivling’, to establish the truth in the matter, it said.

“It is further submitted that since the ASI has conducted scientific surveys of the entire area under the orders of the district judge (Varanasi) dated July 21, 2023, as confirmed/modified by this court, to meet the ends of justice, the ASI may further be directed to conduct a survey in the entire sealed area and also of the Shivlingam as to whether the same is a fountain or not,” it said.

The plaintiffs further submitted that the area of ‘Shivling’ has been surrounded by raising artificial walls which are modern construction unconnected with the original building.

The area has no religious significance for Muslims as according to them there is an alleged fountain, they submitted.

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On August 4, 2023, the top court refused to stay the Allahabad High Court order on an ASI survey of Varanasi’s Gyanvapi mosque, an exercise that the Muslim side said would “reopen wounds of the past”.

It had, however, asked the ASI not to carry out any invasive act during the survey to find out if the 17th-century mosque was built on a Hindu temple.

The mosque’s ‘wazukhana’, where a structure claimed by Hindu litigants to be a ‘shivling’ exists, was not part of the survey following the May 17, 2023 order of the top court protecting that spot in the complex.

Hindu activists claimed a temple existed earlier at the site and was demolished in the 17th century on the orders of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.

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