Indian Court Permits Hindus to Pray at Gyanvapi Mosque in Varanasi

Gyanvapi Mosque in Varanasi, India (photo: Getty Images)

New Delhi, MINA – A court in India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh has ruled that Hindus are permitted to pray at the 17th century Gyanvapi Mosque located in the ancient city of Varanasi old city, according to a lawyer representing Hindu petitioners said on Wednesday.

The Varanasi district court permitted the kin of the pries named by the Kashi Vishwanath Trust Board to hold prayer and directed the administration to make arrangements within seven days to conduct worshipping rituals inside one of the sealed cellar inside the mosque, said the lawyer, Anadolu Agency reports.

“The prayer will begin on seven days,” said Vishnu Shankar Jain, one of the petitioners’ lawyers to reporters in Varanasi.

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Gyanvapi Mosque, located near the 18th century Kashi Vishwanath Temple, is now at the center of an ongoing legal battle on India.

The court’s decision came days after the Archeology Survey of India, a government agency concluded that it can be said there existed a Hindus temple before to the construction of the existing structure.

The Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, the Muslim party in the dispute, said however that it was just a report and not a final decision.

After the Babri Masjid in the northern city of Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, Gyanvapi is another medieval mosque that is being claimed by Hindus.

On Dec. 6, 1992, the 16th-century Babri Mosque was torn down by Hindu hardliners who claimed the site was the birthplace of Lord Ram. After a top Indian court settled the issue of the ownership of the site in 2019 and handed over the site to Hindus and allowed the construction of a temple, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the grand Ram temple this month.

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Hindus widely believe that the Gyanvapi Mosque was built on the orders of the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb, by pulling down part of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in the 17th century. Muslims, however, argue that it was on the premises of the Waqf Board, responsible for the maintenance of Islamic properties in India.

Earlier, a suit was filed by five Hindu women seeking worshipping rights in the mosque compound.

Last year, an Indian court ruled that officials can conduct a scientific survey.

The Muslim groups had opposed the survey, saying it was against the Places of Worship Act of 1991, which maintains the religious status of any place of worship as of Aug. 15, 1947.

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The Hindu side even claimed that a court-appointed team in a survey had found relics of the Hindu god Shiva inside the pond in the courtyard of the mosque meant for ablutions before prayers. (T/RE1/P2)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)