The Varanasi district court on Thursday rejected the Gyanvapi Masjid management’s plea to stop the Archaeological Survey of India’s survey of the mosque premises.
The court also observed that it had already ordered the district administration to preserve the “evidence” collected from the site by the ASI.
The case relates to a demand from Hindu individuals and organisations to hand over the mosque to Hindus on the ground that it had been built by demolishing parts of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, with which it shares its compound. The ASI survey is expected to settle the historical claim.
The Anjuman Intezamia Committee, which runs the mosque, had applied to district judge Ajay Krishna Vishwesha saying the ASI was violating the official norms for such surveys as well as Allahabad High Court’s order not to damage the structure.
Sunil Tripathi, a lawyer for the Hindu side, said on Thursday: “They want to stop the survey because it’s collecting evidence that it was a temple before being converted into a mosque during Mughal emperor Aurangzeb’s time.”
The Muslim side has largely been reticent in public, citing the sub-judice status of the matter. However, a committee member told some reporters on the condition of anonymity that “we are in a position to prove that Gyanvapi was always a mosque”.
“At the moment, we haven’t much to say except that the ASI shouldn’t damage the mosque,” he said.
“The ASI told Allahabad High Court it wouldn’t inflict any injury to the structure but is doing so freely. We also reminded the district court that the ASI was not following the norm requiring it to pay a fee to the management of any historical building before it starts a survey there.”