The much talked about controversy of Gyanvapi mosque has taken a new turn after the verdict of Varanasi district court today. While the lawyer from petitioners' side has claimed that the verdict has been in their favor, the AMIC has claimed that the verdict cannot change the status quo of Gyanvapi mosque.
What was the petition by the 5 Hindu women?
The well known Gyanvapi mosque is situated next to the famous Kashi Vishwanath temple. The case came into limelight when 5 Hindu women filed a petition in Varanasi district Court to allow them to pray to the goddess 'Shringar Gauri' in the premises of the temple where the 'Shringar Gauri Sthal' is located. These women claimed that there had been the tradition of offering prayers to the Goddess since a very long time and thus they want the right to pray there again. The case got limelight and fast trials began. The civil judge of the Varanasi District Court ordered the videography of the place to decide the case and check the facts affirmed by these women. As soon as the order of videography was given, another petition was filed by AIMC(Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee) to stop this survey.
The five women namely - Rekha Pathak, Laxmi Devi, Manju Vyas, Rakhi Singh and Sita Sahu had filed the plea on 18th April 2021. The plea was regarding the right to worship Goddess 'Shringar Gauri' along with Lord Ganesh and Lord Hanuman and also Nandi. They also wanted an assurance that these places and idols will not be damaged.
History of dispute of the Gyanvapi complex -
The ownership of the mosque has been a contentious issue since 1936. Both sides claim themselves to be the real owner of the property of the land.
In 1991, the worshippers of 'Lord Vishweshwar' argued that the Gyanwapi mosque was originally a temple which was demolished by Aurangzeb in 1669 and now the temple should be reconstructed as it was. They quoted 'Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991' will not be applicable for the temple as the mosque has been constructed by demolishing the temple.
In 1998, the management of the mosque went to court to dismiss the plea.
In 2019, the matter was opened up again by the advocate Vijay Rastogi who demanded a survey by the ASI(Archaeological Survey of India) of the temple premises by filing a plea.
In 2020, the AMIC again submitted a counter plea to stop this kind of survey.
A watershed moment came in April 2021 when Varanasi Court asked ASI to proceed with their survey and videography of the area disputed between the two parties. But the Allahabad High Court stayed this activity till the next order.
Timeline of the case of worshiping Goddess 'Shringar Gauri' -
The case proceeded and on July 21st this year, the apex court decided to wait for the decision of Varanasi district court in this matter.
The case was final on 24th August and A. K. Vishvesha, District Judge of Varanasi Court had put the order 'reserved' till 12th September.
In between, advocate Shamim who is the lawyer by the side of AMIC(Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee) said that the court has no authority to hear the case as the property solely belongs to the Waqf Board.
Latest verdict by the Varanasi Court-
Now, on 12th September 2022, finally, the verdict has come. Varanasi Court's Judge Ajay Krishna Vishvesha announced his order and declared that the case is 'maintainable'. The counter argument of AMIC (Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee) to dismiss the case, is not right. It means that further proceedings will be done regarding this case. The honorable court has decided 22nd September to initiate the hearings of this case.
Reaction of petitioners-
As the verdict was announced, people started chanting 'Har Har Mahadev' in the court. The lawyer by the side of 5 women, Vishnu Jain has expressed happiness that the case has been accepted for further hearings. Another lawyer Harishankar Jain told the media that the 'Places of Worship Act-1991' which was quoted by AMIC to stop hearing, doesn't apply in this case.
Overall, the proceedings will begin from 22nd September but the acceptance of the case has stirred up the emotions of people to keep a keen eye on the matter.