Varanasi: In a landmark decision, a Varanasi court on Wednesday ruled in favour of Hindu petitioners, allowing them to worship inside the previously sealed basement of the Gyanvapi mosque. The judge, who retires today, ordered the removal of barricades within seven days to facilitate religious practice.
Additionally, the court designated priests from the Kashi Vishwanath Temple to conduct prayers, marking a significant development in the ongoing Gyanvapi mosque dispute.
This verdict follows claims by Vishnu Shankar Jain, representing the four Hindu women petitioners, that debris from Hindu deities was found during a recent survey. Jain also argued that parts of a pre-existing temple structure, including pillars and inscriptions, were incorporated into the mosque’s construction.
Last month, the Allahabad High Court rejected all petitions from the mosque committee challenging civil suits seeking the restoration of the temple at the site. The Gyanvapi mosque is situated next to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, and the overall case involves a 1991 suit filed on behalf of the Adi Vishveswar Virajman deity, seeking control of the disputed premises and permission to worship.
Despite challenges from the Anjuman Intezamia Masajid Committee and the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board, the High Court dismissed petitions questioning the maintainability of the 1991 case before the Varanasi court. The dispute’s pre-independence nature was emphasized by the petitioners, asserting that it would not be affected by laws restricting alterations to the character of religious places as of August 15, 1947.