The Gyanvapi controversy in Varanasi was decided by the Lower Court on Thursday. The court has ordered that videography be used to conduct the survey of the mosque. Assistant Commissioners Vishal and Ajay Pratap will accompany Advocate Commissioner Ajay Mishra during this time. The court has set a deadline of May 17 for the survey report in this matter. The region has been transformed into a cantonment, and it has become the talk of the town. In this setting, it is critical to have a thorough understanding of the subject. Let’s take a closer look at the history and timeline of this conflict.
What is the point of contention?
The conflict between the Gyanvapi Masjid and the Kashi Vishwanath Temple is analogous to the Ayodhya affair. The only distinction is that the mosque was erected in Ayodhya, but both the temple and the mosque remain in Varanasi.
In the Kashi dispute, the Hindu side claims that Aurangzeb built a mosque here in 1669 by destroying the temple. Meanwhile, the Muslim side maintains that there was never a temple here, but that there was always a mosque.
The Gyanvapi Mosque is said to have been built in 1669 by Mughal ruler Aurangzeb after the ancient Vishweshwar temple was demolished. It is also worth noting that Aurangzeb ordered Governor Abul Hassan to demolish the temple in 1669, according to Saqib Khan’s book “Yasir Alamgiri.” The mosque’s name is thought to have come from a nearby well known as the Gyanvapi, or Well of Knowledge.
Another popular idea is that the original lingam of the old Vishweshwar temple was hidden by priests within the Gyanvapi well during Aurangzeb’s raid, which explains why Hindus want to perform puja and rites at the sacred site where the mosque now sits.
How this matter comes into the limelight again?
Once a year, on the fourth day of the Chaitra Navratri in April, the site is open for Hindu worship. Within the original temple complex, the petitioners have also requested permission to pray to additional visible and invisible deities.
On August 5, 2021, some women submitted a petition at Varanasi’s local court, requesting permission to worship a number of deities, including Shringar Gauri Temple, which is part of the Gyanvapi Masjid complex. The court had granted permission to conduct the poll on this petition. When the team arrived to perform the survey, however, members of the Muslim community blocked them from filming the mosque.
Claims of both sides:
This Gyanvapi Mosque is located next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, and it is reported that it was built after the ancient Vishweshwar temple was demolished. Aurangzeb is said to have destroyed Lord Vishweshwar’s temple and replaced it with a mosque. As a result, the petitioners’ land should be returned to them.
Simultaneously, the Muslim side went to the High Court, citing the 1991 Places of Worship Act and claiming that no judgement could be made in this case. The High Court gave a stay, but after 22 years, the Varanasi court ordered the survey and videography of the premises so that it can be found out whether the mosque was actually built by demolishing the temple in the Gyanvapi complex or it is a different area.
Gyanvapi dispute timeline:
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1991: First petition filed in Varanasi Court on behalf of Lord Vishweshwar. The petitioner sought permission from the court to worship in the Gyanvapi complex.
1998: The Anjuman Inazaniya Masjid Committee, which oversees the Gyanvapi Masjid, decided to approach the Allahabad High Court. The committee said that the civil court cannot take any decision in this matter. Later, on the orders of the Allahabad High Court, the hearing in the civil court was stayed.
2019: Vijay Shankar Rastogi filed a petition in Varanasi Court on behalf of Lord Vishwanath. In this, a demand was made to conduct a survey of the Gyanvapi complex by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
2020: Anjuman Inazaniya Masjid Committee, which oversees Gyanvapi, opposes ASI’s survey. In 2020 itself, Rastogi filed a petition in the lower court and demanded to resume the hearing of the case.
2022: In April 2022, the court ordered to conduct an archaeological survey of the Gyanvapi complex and on this basis, the survey of the Gyanvapi complex is to be done.