ASI team enters Gyanvapi mosque complex in Varanasi to carry out scientific survey

Varanasi:  A 30-member team of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) entered the Gyanvapi complex on Monday morning to carry out a scientific survey in accordance with court orders to determine if the mosque located next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple was built upon a temple.

Besides the ASI team, which entered the complex around 7 am, the lawyers of all the Hindu petitioners to the legal dispute are also present at the spot, Madan Mohan Yadav, one of the counsel, said.

Late on Sunday evening, District Magistrate (DM) S Rajalingam had said the ASI team had reached Varanasi and the survey proceedings inside the Gyanvapi mosque campus would begin from 7 am on Monday.

Varanasi Police Commissioner Ashok Mutha Jain and the DM held a meeting with both the Hindu and Muslim sides to the dispute on Sunday night to share information about the survey with them.

However, citing the Supreme Court hearing scheduled for Monday on the order for the survey, the lawyers of the Muslim side demanded that the date for the exercise be postponed, Yadav said.

He added that the Muslim side has boycotted he survey.

District Judge A K Vishvesh directed the ASI on Friday to conduct a detailed scientific survey — including excavations, wherever necessary — to determine if the mosque in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh was built at a place where a temple existed earlier.

The mosque’s “wazookhana” (a small reservoir for Muslim devotees to perform ritual ablutions), where a structure claimed by the Hindu litigants to be a “Shivling” exists, will not be part of the survey, following an earlier Supreme Court order protecting that spot in the complex.

The judge has directed the ASI to submit a report to the court by August 4, along with video clips and photographs of the survey proceedings.