The Gyanvapi Mosque Controversy: Everything You Need to Know!

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Shweta Routh
Shweta Routh
Shweta Routh is a third-year student at KIIT University's School of Mass Communication. Her ambition is to become a good journalist and serve her country. She is a classical dancer who enjoys meeting new people and trying new things.

The District Court of Varanasi has rescheduled May 26 as the next date of hearing for the Gyanvapi masjid-Kashi Viswanath Mandir dispute. Following the order of the supreme court to transfer the case from the civil court to the district court of Varanasi, the Varanasi Court is hearing the suit of the Gyanvapi masjid-Kashi Viswanath Mandir dispute.

On May 26, a hearing will be held on the Muslim side’s appeal under order 7-11 CPC regarding the suit’s rejection. The court ordered both parties to file objections to the commission’s report within one week.

Lawyers for Hindu petitioners claimed earlier this week that a “shivling” was discovered during a videography survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex.

The mosque committee members refuted the claim, stating it was part of the wazoo khana reservoir’s water fountain mechanism, which devotees use to perform ritual ablutions before offering namaz. The ‘wuzu khana’ was then ordered sealed by the district court.

The Allahabad High Court rescheduled the hearing of the Kashi Vishwanath temple-Gyanvapi mosque case on Friday until July 6. The HC was hearing a petition challenging a pending dispute suit in a Varanasi court. Six petitions have been filed in the High Court regarding the issue.

How the Gyanvapi Masjid Controversy Start?

Numerous pleas have been filed in the Supreme Court, Allahabad High Court, and Varanasi Court against Gyanvapi masjid.

The first petition was filed in 1991 by a group of local priests seeking permission to worship inside the Gayanvapi Masjid complex. They also demanded the removal of the masjid and that the land be given back to Hindus. According to the petitioners, Aurangzeb erected the masjid by demolishing Kashi Vishwanath Temple during his reign in the 16th century. The case didn’t get momentum, and the Allahabad High Court halted the hearing. 

When the Supreme Court issued its decision in the Ayodhya Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi title dispute in 2019, the Gyanvapi case resurfaced in December of that year. 

Vijay Shankar Rastogi, a lawyer from Varanasi, filed a petition in the lower court alleging illegality in the construction of the Gyanvapi Masjid and requesting an archaeological survey. 

In April 2021, a Varanasi court ordered the ASI to conduct the survey and submit its findings. The Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, which manages the Gyanvapi Mosque, and the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board, opposed Rastogi’s petition and the Varanasi court’s order for a survey of the mosque.

The matter was then taken to the Allahabad High Court, which ordered an interim stay on the direction to the ASI to survey hearing all of the parties involved. According to the high court’s order, the Places of Worship Act of 1991 prohibits any change in a place of worship’s religious character from what it was on August 15, 1947.

In March 2021, a Supreme Court bench led by then-CJI SA Bobde agreed to investigate the constitutionality of the Places of Worship Act.

Current Controversy

Five Hindu women filed the next petition in the Varanasi court on April 18, 2021. The group of five women sought permission to offer daily prayers before the Hindu Devi-devtas on its outer wall. 

Laxmi Devi, Sita Sahu, Manju Vyas, and Rekha Pathak, all of Varanasi, and Rakhi Singh, of Delhi, are the five women who filed the petition.

The court appointed a committee to survey and videotape the Gyanvapi-Gauri Shringar complex and ordered them to submit their report by May 10. 

However, the survey was halted due to objections from the mosque committee, which claimed that the court-appointed advocate commissioner did not have the authority to film inside the mosque. They also accused him of bias and filed a plea for his replacement. 

On May 12, the court rejected the plea and ordered the committee to move ahead and submit the report by May 17. 

After that, the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid committee petitioned the Supreme Court for a stay on the Kashi Vishwanath temple-Gyanvapi Masjid complex survey.

The commission appointed by the court to conduct the survey filed a sealed report in a Varanasi court on Wednesday. Vishal Singh, Special Advocate Commissioner, also submitted three boxes containing video recordings from the survey’s three days — May 14, 15, and 16.

According to the media reports, the survey reports, which were presented to the court, stated that outside the barricade, the ruins of old temples were discovered at the corner of the northwestern walls. On the pillars of the basement area of the complex, pictures of Kalash, bells, Trishul, and flowers are visible. 

However, the Supreme Court delayed the hearing in the Gyanvapi mosque case until Friday, May 20, and also instructed the Varanasi court not to take any further action until then. 

 The civil judge (senior division), Ravi Kumar Diwakar, scheduled May 23 as the next date for hearing the videography survey report submitted by the court commission as well as objections of women petitioners and Anjuman Intejamia Masajid.

What did the Supreme Court say on the dispute?

On May 20, the Supreme Court issued an order to transfer the suit for the Gyanvapi masjid-Kashi Viswanath Mandir dispute from the civil court to the district court. The Supreme Court determined that it should be assigned to a more experienced judge with 25-30 years of experience because the case is more sensitive.

 The bench stated that they were not criticising the trial judge according to the reports. For the benefit of both parties, the case should be handled by a more mature judge.

The court stated that the bench is in a joint effort to preserve the country’s sense of unity and that selective leaks will not be allowed once the commission report on the Gyanvapi mosque case is released. “We all are on a joint mission to keep the country sovereign.” Once the commission report is released, there can be no selective leaks. Do not give information to the press. The report is only opened by the judge,” the SC bench stated.

An email from Bengaluru’s well-known school asking to rename the Gyanvapi Masjid to Gyanvapi Temple

An email from a school in Bengaluru is facing a lot of backlashes. 

Bengaluru’s well-known school, New Horizon Public School, sent an email asking to change the name of Gyanvapi Mosque to Gyanvapi Temple to the school’s alumni. The school mail also included instructions for changing the name of the Gyanvapi Mosque and a link to a Google map. 

However, the school had promised to look into the matter as the highest priority and said that the mail was sent without undergoing the proper screening procedure. 

What are the claims from both communities?

The Hindus ask for permission to worship at the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri complex daily. For this, they filed a petition demanding a survey of the complex. The Hindu side says that to prove the existence of the idol of Shringar Gauri, one has to go inside the masjid. 

The Anjuman Intezamiya Masajid (mosque management committee) claims that Shringar Gauri’s idol is outside, on the mosque’s western wall.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) raised the Kashi Vishwanath Temple-Gyanvapi Mosque dispute during the campaign for the Ram Mandir construction in Ayodhya, as well as the Krishna Janma Bhoomi-Shahi Idgah Masjid in Mathura. They claimed that all three mosques were built after the Hindu temples were demolished.

The history

The Gayanvapi Masjid is a mosque near the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, a popular Hindu shrine. According to history, Aurangzeb built it in 1669 upon the demolition of an older Shiva temple called Vishweshwar Temple. After a century, in 1780, Ahilya Holkar, the queen of Indore, built a new Kashi Vishwanath temple next to the mosque. 

The Kashi Vishwanath temple, one of the 12 Jyotirlingas, is widely regarded as Lord Shiva’s most important shrine.


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