Gyanvapi: Mosque panel gets no interim relief from HC, told to amend its application | India News

Gyanvapi: Mosque panel gets no interim relief from HC, told to amend its application | India News

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The Allahabad High Court Friday declined any immediate relief to the Anjuman Intezamia Masajid Committee, which manages the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi, and had challenged the January 31 order of the District Court that allowed puja to be performed in the southern cellar of the mosque complex, adjacent to the Kashi Vishwanath temple.

The lawyer for the mosque committee, which had been directed to the High Court by the Supreme Court Thursday, was told by Justice Rohit Ranjan Agarwal to amend its application after a “preliminary objection” was raised by lawyers representing the plaintiff — Shailendra Kumar Pathak, head priest of Acharya Ved Vyas Peeth temple, and on whose petition the District Court had permitted the puja – on “the maintainability of appeal on the ground that the basic order dated 17.01.2024 has not been challenged”.

The January 17 order of District Judge A K Vishvesha had appointed the Varanasi District Magistrate as the receiver of the southern cellar.

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“Learned Senior Counsel, appearing for the defendant, submits that he will be filing the amendment application amending the appeal and laying challenge to the order dated 17.01.2024 passed by the District Judge, Varanasi on the application moved by the plaintiff under Order 40 Rule 1 CPC,” Justice Agarwal said in his order.

The High Court also directed the Uttar Pradesh Advocate General to ensure that law and order is maintained in Varanasi by the District Magistrate.

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“Learned Advocate General undertakes that law and order situation shall be maintained by the District Magistrate pursuant to the order passed by the District Judge, Varanasi,” the order stated. The matter has now been listed for fresh hearing on February 6.

On Wednesday, Judge Vishvesha, in his order, said, “District Magistrate, Varanasi is directed that pooja (prayers) be done by a priest — named by the Kashi Vishwanath Trust and the plaintiffs — of idols at the southern cellar, which is disputed, of building situated on plot settlement no 9130, police station Chowk, District Varanasi. For this, arrangements must be made for barricading of iron and other things within seven days.”

The Varanasi administration moved swiftly on the court’s direction to let a priest perform puja in the southern cellar of the mosque complex — Hindu plaintiffs call it ‘Vyasji ka tehkhana’ (Vyasji’s cellar) — and part of a barricade was removed to enter the cellar where puja began late Wednesday night and has continued.

Meanwhile, the Kashi Vidvat Parishad has named  the southern cellar of the Gyanvapi mosque as Gyanvapi Talgrih. Professor Ram Narayan Dwivedi, national general secretary of Kashi Vidvat Parishad, said the name was “meticulously chosen following extensive discussions with senior scholars”.

In Varanasi, security was stepped up and the Friday prayers at the Gyanvapi mosque concluded peacefully. Shops in Muslim-majority areas of the city and those near the mosque remained closed – the mosque committee had called for a shutdown.

Police teams were positioned in the vicinity of the mosque. Senior administration and police officers, including Varanasi Divisional Commissioner Kaushal Raj Sharma, Police Commissioner Mutha Ashok Jain, and District Magistrate S Rajalingam, were on the spot to monitor the situation. Police teams conducted foot patrols in the area, restricting entry of two-wheelers in certain locations.

The faithful showed up in large numbers to offer namaz at the Gyanvapi mosque.

As the numbers grew, police intervened and temporarily halted entry. There were some tense moments when some persons had heated arguments with the police after they were stopped. But community leaders intervened and told them that the mosque attendance was at its capacity. People were asked to proceed to another mosque 200 metres away to offer namaz.

S M Yasin, Joint Secretary of the Anjuman Intezamia Masajid Committee, said the Gyanvapi mosque has a capacity for 2,500-3,000 people. Once that space filled, people were told to relocate to the nearby mosque.

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