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Allahabad High Court bins plea against puja in Gyanvapi mosque

Justice Rohit Ranjan Agrawal upheld the Varanasi district court’s January 31 order that had allowed Hindus to worship at Vyasji Ka Tahkhana — a portion of the basement of the Gyanvapi mosque

Piyush Srivastava Lucknow Published 27.02.24, 05:54 AM
Gyanvapi Mosque.

Gyanvapi Mosque. File Photo.

Allahabad High Court on Monday dismissed the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee’s plea to stop puja being performed in the basement of the Gyanvapi mosque and restore its previous status.

Justice Rohit Ranjan Agrawal upheld the Varanasi district court’s January 31 order that had allowed Hindus to worship at Vyasji Ka Tahkhana — a portion of the basement of the Gyanvapi mosque.

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The petition seeking to conduct puja in the basement was filed in the district court by Shailendra Kumar Pathak, a member of the Vyas family. Pathak had claimed his maternal grandfather Somnath Vyas was in possession of the basement till 1993 and used to offer puja there.

However, his access to the place was blocked in December 1993 by a verbal order from the then Mulayam Singh Yadav government. Somnath was a priest of the Kashi Vishwanath temple.

Following the district court's order, the local administration had removed a portion of the boundary wall between the Gyanvapi and the Kashi Vishwanath temple and allowed the Vyas family and their priests to worship there. A window was opened for other Hindus to watch the puja from a distance.

Challenging the order in the high court, the Intezamia had argued that the basement was always a part of the mosque and that making any change to its character or use would violate the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, which stipulates status quo on any religious structure as it existed on August 15, 1947.

The Intezamia had claimed that the basement was empty when the district court passed its order, and that the petitioner and some priests had planted idols there with the help of members of the local administration on the night of January 31 and started the puja.

Varanasi’s Mufti-e-Sheher, Maulana Abdul Batim Nomani, too had alleged that the government was using force to grab the Islamic structure.

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