Gyanvapi Case: UP Court Orders Sealing Of Area Where “Shivling” Reportedly Discovered

After Hindu petitioners claimed a “Shivling” was discovered in a pond within the Gyanvapi Masjid complex in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, a court today ordered it sealed.

The “Shivling” (Lord Shiva’s emblem) was reportedly discovered this morning, on the final day of the court-ordered filming of the mosque compound in response to a petition demanding permission to pray at a shrine behind the mosque.

According to Subhash Nandan Chaturvedi, the lawyer representing a group of Hindu ladies seeking year-round access to pray at the shrine, water was emptied from the pond and a “Shivling” was discovered. At the court’s decision, some of the petitioners reportedly shouted “Baba Mil Gaye.”

The petitioners asked the court to close the pond, which was utilised for “Wazoo” or cleansing rituals before namaaz. The court approved the plea and ordered that the pond be closed to the public by the Varanasi District Magistrate. The administration, police, and security officials must also ensure that no one enters the restricted area, according to the court.

The claim was refuted by Muslim petitioners, who said it was a “fountain, not a shivling.”

When the Varanasi District Magistrate, Kaushal Raj Sharma, talked to the media earlier, he did not corroborate reports of a “shivling” being discovered within the mosque compound.

“No details of the survey of Gyanvapi mosque were disclosed by any member of the commission. The court is the custodian of the information about the survey. One member was debarred from the commission for about a few minutes yesterday, later admitted to the commission,” Mr Sharma had told reporters.

Next to the famous Kashi Vishwanath temple lies the Gyanvapi mosque. The court has been petitioned to allow daily prayers before idols on the temple’s outer walls, as well as other “visible and invisible deities within the old temple complex,” according to the five women petitioners. Once a year, the place is available for prayers.

A court commissioner was assigned by the Varanasi Civil Court to conduct a video inspection of the mosque complex, which includes three domes, beneath basements, and the pond.

A portion of this survey was conducted on May 6, but it was discontinued after a disagreement arose over filming inside the mosque. The court had not ordered videography inside the mosque, according to the mosque committee.

The court-ordered filming was challenged in court, but the case was dismissed in April by the Allahabad High Court. The Supreme Court overturned the High Court’s decision.

A video inspection of the mosque was ordered by the Varanasi Civil Court. The filming order is in violation of the Places of Worship Act, 1991, according to a lawyer representing the Gyanvapi Mosque trust, which filed an appeal with the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court refused to suspend the recording but agreed to hear a Muslim petitioner’s complaint against the mosque complex assessment.

Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya welcomed the development and tweeted: “However much you hide the truth, it always comes out”.

AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi said Muslims are not prepared to lose “another mosque” after Babri Masjid.