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Allahabad HC Declines Stay On Varanasi Court Order Allowing Hindu Prayers In Gyanvapi Mosque

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Varanasi: Allahabad High Court on Friday denied the stay on the Varanasi Court order that allowed the Hindu side to offer prayers in the southern cellar of Gyanvapi mosque.

The court granted time until February 6 for the Masjid Intezamia Committee of Gyanvapi mosque to amend its pleadings to include a challenge to a January 17 order consequent to which the January 31 order was passed.

The next hearing will now be held on February 6.The bench of Justice Rohit Ranjan Aggarwal said that the mosque side should first challenge the order of January 17, 2024. By this order, District Magistrate Varanasi has been appointed as the receiver, and after that, the DM took possession of the Gyanvapi premises on January 23.

After this, the District Court, by an interim order dated January 31, has given permission to Kashi Vishwanath Temple Trust to perform puja in the basement through a priest.

The court had asked the Masjid Intezamia Committee lawyer SFA Naqvi why the basic order of January 17, 2024 was not challenged?The committee’s lawyer said, “That due to the order of January 31, he had to come immediately. Will also challenge it (the basic order). Because as soon as the order was given, the district magistrate made preparations at night and started the puja within nine hours.”

Vishnu Shankar Jain, the Hindu side lawyer, objected to the maintainability of the appeal. He said that the original order has not been challenged. The subordinate court has not granted relief to the plaintiff. The authority has been given to the temple trust.

The Masjid Intezamia Committee had also gone to the Supreme Court in the early hours of Thursday, but the Supreme Court had suggested going to the High Court.

Meanwhile, on January 31, the Varanasi district court allowed the Hindu side to offer prayers in the southern cellar of Gyanvapi mosque. The court directed the Varanasi district magistrate to make arrangements within seven days for ‘puja’ to be performed by the Hindu side and a pujari (priest) nominated by Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Trust.

After the order of the court, “puja” and “aarti” were performed in the early hours on Thursday.

The district court has issued the order on the plea of the head priest of Acharya Ved Vyas Peeth temple, Shailendra Kumar Pathak Vyas, seeking worship of Shringar Gauri and other visible, and invisible deities in the cellar of the mosque. Vyas is the scion of the family which was performing “puja” in this cellar till December 1993.

‘The plea stated that Vyas’s maternal grandfather, priest Somnath Vyas, used to perform prayers there till 1993 when the cellar was closed by the authorities.

Following the Varanasi court order, Muslim side lawyer Akhlaq Ahmed said, “The order has overlooked the Advocate Commissioner report of 2022, ASI’s report, and the decision of 1937, which was in our favour. The Hindu side has not placed any evidence that prayers were held before 1993. There is no such idol in the place.”

The mosque has four ‘tahkhanas’ (cellars) in the basement, of which one is still in the possession of the Vyas family, who used to live there. Vyas had petitioned that, as a hereditary pujari, he be allowed to enter the tahkhana and resume pooja.

The ASI survey, ordered by the same court, in connection with a related case, suggested that the mosque was constructed during Aurangzeb’s rule over the remains of a Hindu temple.

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