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Gyanvapi Mosque: Allahabad HC Likely To Hear Muslim Sides Plea Against Puja in ‘Tehkhana’ Tomorrow

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New Delhi: The Allahabad High Court is likely to hear a plea filed by the mosque committee of Gyanvapi Masjid on Friday, challenging the order of the district judge of Varanasi that allowed the Vyas family to perform puja in the ‘Tehkhana’ of the mosque. Hearing on the petition of the mosque committee is expected till around 12 noon. The mosque committee has sought a stay on the order, claiming that it violates the Places of Worship Act 1991, which prohibits any change in the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on August 15, 1947.

The district judge of Varanasi had passed the order on Wednesday, after hearing a petition filed by the Vyas family, who claim to be the descendants of the sage who wrote the Vedas. The petitioners had sought permission to perform puja in the basement of Gyanvapi Masjid, which they believe is the original site of the ancient Kashi Vishwanath temple. They had also submitted some photographs and documents to support their claim.

Gyanvapi Masjid Is Disputed Site Between Hindus, Muslims

The Gyanvapi Masjid, located near the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, is a disputed site between Hindus and Muslims. The mosque was built by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1669, allegedly after demolishing a part of the temple. The Hindus claim that the mosque encroaches upon the temple land and that the basement of the mosque contains the remnants of the temple. The Muslims deny these allegations and assert that the mosque is a historical monument and a place of worship for them.

The dispute over the Gyanvapi Masjid has been pending in various courts for decades. In 1991, the central government passed the Places of Worship Act, which declared that the religious status of any place of worship, except the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi site, would be maintained as it was on August 15, 1947. The act also barred any court from entertaining any suit or proceeding in respect of such places of worship.

However, in 1998, a civil suit was filed in the Varanasi civil court by a Hindu organisation, seeking the ownership and possession of the entire Gyanvapi complex. The suit also demanded the removal of the mosque and the restoration of the temple. The suit was opposed by the mosque committee and the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board, who claimed that the suit was barred by the Places of Worship Act. The suit is still pending in the court.

Varanasi District  Court Order Has Sparked Controversy

The order of the district judge of Varanasi, allowing the Vyas family to perform puja in the ‘Tehkhana’ of Gyanvapi Masjid, has sparked a controversy and raised questions over the applicability of the Places of Worship Act. The order was passed on the basis of an interim application filed by the family of Vyasa ji, who had sought permission to perform puja on the occasion of Basant Panchami.

The mosque committee has filed a writ petition in the Allahabad High Court, challenging the order of the district judge. The petition argues that the order is illegal, arbitrary and against the spirit of the Places of Worship Act. The petition also alleges that the order is an attempt to create communal tension and disturb the status quo of the disputed site. The petition has prayed for a stay on the order and a direction to the district judge to refrain from passing any further order in the matter.

The Allahabad High Court is expected to hear the petition of the mosque committee on Friday. The hearing is likely to take place around 12 noon. The outcome of the hearing may have a significant impact on the fate of the Gyanvapi Masjid dispute and the religious harmony in Varanasi.



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