Gyanvapi case: Boat procession for Shivalinga on Ganga
The head priest of the Kashi Vishwanath temple who has in the past campaigned for Narendra Modi has announced a boat procession on the Ganga to press for Hindu’s rights to worship a purported Shivalinga found on the Gyanvapi mosque premises, the subject of several court cases.
Mahant Kulpati Tiwari has urged sadhus of the country to join the “Shiva kar seva”, whose date will be finalised after June 15.
“We will not breach law and order or violate court orders. We call on all important priests and sadhus of the country to join the boat procession from Assi Ghat to Adi Keshav Ghat and back along the same 1km route,” Tiwari told reporters in Varanasi on Monday.
“We want governments and the courts to know that we want to start puja there (on the Gyanvapi premises) immediately.”
Tiwari had last month petitioned a Varanasi court for permission to worship the purported Shivalinga but later withdrew the plea without explanation.
The mosque management says the object is not a Shivalinga but part of a defunct fountain.
Tiwari had campaigned for Modi in Varanasi during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, and was seen accompanying the VIP candidate’s elder brother Somabhai Modi. He claims to have stayed at Modi’s ancestral home in Gujarat.
Swami Avimukteshwaranand, chief disciple of Swaroopanand Saraswati, the Shankaracharya of Sharada Peeth in Dwarka (Gujarat), continued his fast at a Varanasi ashram for the third day, seeking the right to worship the purported Shivalinga.
Many organisations of sadhus have supported his demand. Over two dozen sadhus from the Ganga Seva Abhiyan and Akhil Bharatiya Dandi Sanyasi Sangh held a mass fast at Mumuksha Bhavan on the Assi Ghat on Monday in support of Avimukteshwaranand. Women sadhus from the Adhyatmik Utthan Mahila Mandal Kashi are to follow the example on Tuesday.
Avimukteshwaranand’s plea seeking the right to worship the purported Shivalinga had been listed for Monday in the court of acting district judge Ashutosh Sharma, but he asked the petitioner to move it in the court of district and sessions judge Ajay Krishna Vishvesha on Tuesday.
“Shankaracharya Swaroopanand wants puja to start there immediately. A court should sit and take a decision immediately as this is associated with the sentiments of crores of Hindus,” Avimukteshwaranand told reporters.
On Wednesday, chief judicial magistrate Sarvottama Nagesh Sharma will hear a petition filed by lawyer Raja Anand Jyoti Singh seeking the registration of a case against S.M. Yasin, joint secretary of the Gyanvapi mosque committee, and 1,000 others.
Singh alleges that while the area around the purported Shivalinga was sealed on a court order — upheld by the Supreme Court — Muslims have still been doing wuzu (a ritual purification) near it. The apex court has allowed prayers at the mosque.
Several other cases moved by Hindus are pending in Varanasi’s courts, seeking the right to worship the purported Shivalinga or a structure called the Shringar Gauri on the Gyanvapi mosque’s premises, or demanding handover of the entire premises to Hindus.