Gyanvapi mosque case: No survey till tomorrow as mgmt. committee fears damage to structure during surveytext_fields
Prayagraj: The management committee of the Gyanvapi mosque has expressed apprehensions that the historic structure may fall during the ongoing Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) survey.
Seeking a stay, as allowed by the Supreme Court to challenge the order for the ASI survey, the committee on Wednesday told the Allahabad High Court that Gyanvapi mosque has stood at the place, next to the iconic Kashi Vishwanath temple, for 1,000 years.
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 assurance by the ASI team that there will not be any damage to the structure.
It has now been decided that there will be no survey at the Gyanvapi mosque till the Allahabad High Court comes to a decision on the matter. The court has asked the Archeological Survey of India for more clarifications and the hearing will continue tomorrow.
The Hindu side submitted that it trusts a survey similar to the one that happened in the Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi case in Ayodhya. However, the mosque committee maintained that the circumstances in the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute case were different and hence, 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 was constructed at the site in 1585 on the orders of Raja Todarmal, but was demolished in 1669. A group of Hindu women have 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 assurances by the Hindu side 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.
To the Hindu side's submission that the ASI team is waiting, Chief Justice Pritinker Diwaker said, "I am not satisfied with what you are going to do."
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 Hindu side said the machine used "will move like a lawn mower" and that "these machines are accepted all over the world".
The Gyanvapi mosque hit headlines in 2021 after a group of Hindu women approached an Uttar Pradesh court for permission to worship deities in the Gyanvapi complex.
A lower court then ordered a video survey of the complex during which an object was discovered that a section of people claimed to be a shivling. The mosque management committee, however, said it was part of a fountain in the wazhukhana (pool) to wash hands and feet before prayers.
Keeping the sensitivity of the issue in mind, the Supreme Court sealed off the pool (wazukhana).
Earlier this year, the Allahabad High Court dismissed the mosque committee's petition that challenged the maintainability of the request to worship Hindu deities found inside the premises.
This order paved the way for the Varanasi court's ruling, permitting a survey by the ASI inside the mosque complex excluding the wazhukhana area.
The mosque committee then approached the Supreme Court, expressing concerns regarding excavation activities. The court then allowed the petitioners to approach the Allahabad High Court to challenge the order for the ASI survey.