The court-appointed team, which conducted the survey at the Shringar Gauri temple-Gyanvapi mosque complex, will submit the report before a Varanasi court on Tuesday as the hearing will resume.
After hearing inconclusive arguments from the two sides, Varanasi’s Civil Judge (Senior Division) Ravi Kumar Diwakar listed the matter for further hearing on Tuesday. Judge Diwakar had ordered the survey earlier on a plea by five Delghi women seeking the court’s permission to perform daily worships of idols of some deities located on the western wall of the mosque.
Meanwhile, the mesmerizing Taj Mahal – India’s only ever monument that was chosen as one of the seven Wonders of the World – is in the middle of Hindu religious scrutiny after a petition was filed before the Allahabad High Court to open 20 rooms inside it to find if “Hindu idols and inscriptions are hidden there.”
Here’s a wrap up of both the controversies
Shringar Gauri temple-Gyanvapi mosque
In 1991, a bunch of petitions were filed in Varanasi district court by local priests seeking permission to worship in the Gyanvapi complex. The petitioners claimed that the Gyanvapi Masjid was built on the orders of Mughal ruler Aurangzeb by demolishing a part of the Kashi Vishwanath Mandir in the 17th century.
Cut to 2019, petitioners demanded that an archaeological survey of the entire Gyanvapi mosque complex should be conducted.
Two years later, in September 2021, the Allahabad High Court stayed the archaeological survey of ASI in Gyanvapi Masjid.
In the latest row, five Delhi-based women — Rakhi Singh, Laxmi Devi, Sita Sahu and others moved the court with their plea on April 18, 2021 demanding that opponents stop “causing any damage to the idols” and right to worship the idols of Shringar Gauri and other deities in the mosque premises on a daily basis must be secured.
On Monday, the mosque management committee, represented by advocate Abhay Nath Yadav, has approached the court for the appointment of another advocate as the court commissioner, accusing the present one of favouring Hindu petitioners in his court-mandated task. Court commissioner Mishra and lawyers representing both the Hindu and Muslim sides had on Saturday gone inside the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri temple complex.
Despite spending nearly two hours inside the complex, they had not been able to accomplish the work and had to come out of the complex. Counsel Vishnu Jain, representing the five Delhi women, too had gone inside the complex with Mishra on Saturday.
After emerging from there, he had told reporters that men present inside the mosque did not allow the survey team to enter the mosque area to do the survey. He had also accused the district administration of not helping the court commissioner’s team in entering the mosque. Jain had said they would apprise the court on Monday of the opposition to the court-mandated task of the mosque complex and seek a specific order to carry out the videography and survey of the Gyanvapi mosque.
The videographic survey of the mosque was ordered earlier by Judge Diwakar on a plea by Delhi women Rakhi Singh, Laxmi Devi, Sita Sahu and others seeking permission to perform daily worship of deities Shringar Gauri, Lord Ganesha, Lord Hanuman and Nandi whose idols are located on the outer wall of the Gyanvapi mosque. They had moved the court with their plea on April 18, 2021, and had also sought the court’s order to stop the opponents from causing any damage to the idols.
The counsel for the mosque management committee (Anjuman Intezamiya Masajid), Yadav had earlier contended that the court had not given any order to do the videography inside the mosque but to do it only till the ‘chabutra’ (courtyard) outside the barricades enclosing the mosque area. The court commissioner had on Friday conducted an inclonclusive survey of some areas outside Gyanvapi Masjid in the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri complex amid brief sloganeering by two sides.
4 Petitioners Reject Report They Plan to Withdraw Plea
Four of the five petitioners in the Gyanvapi mosque-Shringar Gauri temple case Sunday dismissed reports that they plan to withdraw the plea. The four women — Sita Sahu, Manju Vyas, Rekha Pathak and Laxmi Devi told a press conference here they will fight the case till the end.
This comes after chief of Vishwa Vaidik Sanatan Sangh Jitendra Singh Bisen said his NGO, which backed the original plea filed by the five women, has now sought the withdrawal of the petition that demanded permission for daily worship and performing Hindu rituals at Shringar Gauri temple, One of the four women petitioners told the presser, “If any type of decision (regarding the withdrawal of the case) is taken, we are against it. We will fight the case to the last breath. We will continue our fight for our Gods and Goddesses. However, the fifth petitioner in the case Rakhi Singh was not present at the press conference.
Rekha Pathak said, “A couple of days ago, I had spoken to Rakhi Singh, but there was no discussion regarding withdrawal of the case.” When contacted, Jitendra Singh Bisen refused to comment on the matter. The petitioners have sought the permission to perform daily worship of deities Shringar Gauri, Lord Ganesha, Lord Hanuman and Nandi whose idols are on the outer wall of the Gyanvapi mosque.
Court Team Visits Gyanvapi Mosque-Shringar Gauri Temple Complex, Fails to Do Survey
A court commissioner’s team on Saturday visited the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri temple complex here and stayed there for over two hours but failed to conduct a videographic-survey of the mosque due to protest by Muslim men. The Muslims protested against the survey even as the mosque management committee moved a Varanasi district court seeking the appointment of a different court commissioner, other than the present one, Ajay Kumar Mishra.
After hearing the plea this morning to change the court commissioner, Varanasi’s Civil Judge (Senior Division) Ravi Kumar Diwakar reserved his order for May 9. Court-appointed commissioner Mishra along with lawyers representing both the Hindu and Muslim sides went inside the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri temple complex. But, after spending nearly two hours inside the complex, they came out without accomplishing the task.
Vishnu Jain, a lawyer from the Hindu side who had gone inside the complex with the surveyor told reporters that Muslim men present in the mosque did not allow the team to enter the mosque area for its videography and survey as per the court’s order. He alleged that the district administration did not help either the survey team do its job.
Jain said they would tell the court on May 9 about the matter and would ask for specific order to carry out the videography and survey of the Gyanvapi mosque. Police earlier held a Muslim man raising religious slogans when the survey team was entering the mosque-temple complex and whisked him to a police station.
The videography and survey exercise is being done on the same court’s earlier order on a plea by Delhi-based women Rakhi Singh, Laxmi Devi, Sita Sahu and others seeking permission for performing daily worship of deities Shringar Gauri, Lord Ganesha, Lord Hanuman and Nandi located whose idols are located on the outer wall of the Gyanvapi mosque. They had moved the court with their plea on April 18, 2021 and had sought to stop the opponents from causing any damage to the idols.
The counsel for the mosque management committee (Anjuman Intezamiya Masajid), Abhay Nath Yadav told reporters that the court had not given any order to do the videography inside the mosque but to do it till the ‘chabutra’ (courtyard) outside the barricading. Yadav said, “The videography and survey started at around 4.00 pm Yesterday and the videography was done till the ‘chabutra’ on the western side of the mosque. “After that, when the commissioner made an effort to go inside the mosque by getting its entrance door opened, I opposed it, pointing out that the court has not given any such order under which videography can be done inside the mosque,” he said.
“The court-appointed commissioner claimed he has the orders to open the locks and get videography done. But, the truth is that there is no such order like this, hence I raised questions on the impartiality of the court commissioner,” Yadav said. Litigant friends of the Hindu side Vijay Shankar Rastogi said, “The court while hearing the plea seeking to change the court commissioner, has reserved its order.” “The court-appointed commissioner is discharging his responsibility with honesty. An application was moved on behalf of the Anjuman Intezamiya Masajid Committee to create hurdles for him, accusing him of colluding with petitioners,” he added.
Rastogi also said the survey will take place as the court has not put any kind of ban on it. The court commissioner had on Friday conducted a videographic survey of some areas outside Gyanvapi Masjid in the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri complex.
Petition in Allahabad HC to open 20 rooms in Taj Mahal
A petition has been filed in the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court seeking directives to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to open 20 rooms inside the Taj Mahal in Agra to ascertain whether the Hindu idols and inscriptions are hidden there.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) media in-charge of Ayodhya district, Dr Rajneesh Singh has filed the petition which is yet to come up for hearing.
Advocate Rudra Vikram Singh is representing the petitioner in court.
“There is an old controversy related to the Taj Mahal. Around 20 rooms in Taj Mahal are locked and no one is allowed to enter. It is believed that in these rooms there are idols of Hindu gods and scriptures,” said Dr Rajneesh Singh.
“I have filed a petition in the high court seeking directives to ASI to open these rooms to ascertain facts. There is no harm in opening these rooms and setting to rest all controversies,” said Singh on Sunday.
In the plea, the petitioner has sought directives from the court to the state government to constitute a committee that would examine these rooms and look for any evidence related with the Hindu idols or scriptures there.
Rajneesh Singh said he has been trying to ascertain facts about the 20 locked rooms of Taj Mahal since 2020 through the Right to Information Act (RTI).
Singh had filed an RTI in 2020 with the Union ministry of Culture seeking information about the rooms.
“Since 2020, I have been trying to ascertain facts about the locked rooms of Taj Mahal. I had filed an RTI. Replying to the RTI, the Union ministry of Culture informed the Central Information Commission (in Delhi) that these rooms were locked due to security reasons and no detail was provided about these rooms,” he added.
“In the RTI, I had sought details about the locked rooms (what is inside them) and directives to open them,” Singh said.
“When all my efforts failed then I have approached the Lucknow high court seeking directives to the government to open these rooms and constitute a fact-finding committee to find out whether Hindu gods and scriptures are inside them,” he added.
It may be pointed out that several right-wing organisations claim Taj Mahal to be Tejo Mahalaya, a Hindu temple.
ASI Rubbished RW Claims on Taj Mahal Time and Again with Evidence
In 2015, six lawyers filed cases claiming that the Taj Mahal was originally a Shiva shrine. In 2017, BJP leader Vinay Katiyar repeated the claim and asked UP CM Yogi Adityanath to travel to the monument to look at the Hindu sings inside. In January 2019, BJP leader Anant Kumar Hegde also claimed that Taj Mahal was not built by Shah Jahan but rather bought by him from King Jayasimha.
Such claims have been put to rest not just by historians but also by the Archeological Survey of India which has time and again refuted such revisionist interpretations of Taj Mahal’s history and dismissed claims to ownership.
In February 2018, the ASI filed an affidavit in an Agra court, stating that the Taj Mahal was indeed built as a tomb by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan who intended it to be a tomb and shrine for his Mumtaz Mahal.
(With agency inputs)
Originally published at www.news18.com