Gyanvapi mosque’s survey almost completed, exercise to continue on Monday

Varanasi: A court-mandated videography survey of the Gyanvapi Masjid complex here was carried out peacefully for the second consecutive day on Sunday, with the major part of the exercise said to have been completed.

The survey, which was stalled last week amid objections by the mosque management committee, which claimed that the advocate commissioner appointed by the court for the survey did not have the mandate to film inside the premises, will continue on Monday.

The mosque is located close to the iconic Kashi Vishwanath temple and the local court is hearing a plea by a group of women seeking permission for daily prayers before the idols on its outer walls.

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The survey was carried out from 8 am to 12 noon amid tight security.

Elaborating further on the survey and day’s development, Varanasi’s District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma told PTI, “In the presence of three court commissioners along with all the parties, the court commission started its work at 8 am, and it continued till noon. All the parties followed the court orders. The court commission, after completing Sunday’s work, decided that work will continue on Monday as well.”

The district magistrate added that Monday’s work will begin at 8 am and all the parties have been directed to remain present.

Sharma said as per the directions of the court commission, adequate facilities including resources to provide light, videographers and photographers of the Information Department, draftsman, revenue staff of the tehsil and labour were provided.

Referring to the security set-up, he said, “Tight security arrangements were made. The devotees at the Kashi Vishwanath Temple were given entry through Dhoondi Raj Ganesh and Ganga Nadi ‘dwaar’, while gate number 4 was closed for the common people for four hours.”

“About 65 per cent of the survey work has been completed today. The survey will continue on Monday as well. This is completely an archaeological survey work, Since the advocates were not familiar with the survey work, the work took some time (today),” Madan Mohan Yadav, the counsel for the Hindu side in the case, said.

Assistant advocate commissioner Vishal Singh said the survey work was held peacefully and concluded for the day.

“There were no obstructions in the survey work. The survey report is confidential and it cannot be made public,” he added.

Varanasi police commissioner A Satish Ganesh told PTI that “Deployment (of security forces) has been made on the same scale as it was made on Saturday. Attention has also been paid to ensure that devotees visiting nearby areas do not face any problem (due to the survey).”

“Our responsibility is that an ideal atmosphere is established so that the court procedure can proceed without any hindrance,” the police commissioner added.

Ahead of the commencement of the survey, assistant advocate commissioner Singh had told reporters, “Efforts will be made so that the entire survey is completed today, and on May 17, the report could be presented before the court”.

District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma had said on Saturday that almost 50 per cent of the survey work has been done.

“Survey of more than 50 per cent of the place has been done. The survey work is confidential and is being done under the monitoring of the court. So, information regarding the places where the survey was done and what was found cannot be shared now,” he had said.

In his order on Thursday last, District Civil Judge (Senior Division) Ravi Kumar Diwakar had turned down a plea by the mosque committee to replace Ajay Kumar Mishra, who was appointed advocate commissioner by the court to survey the Gyanvapi-Gauri Shringar complex.

The judge also appointed two more advocates to help the court commissioner with the survey and said it should be completed by Tuesday.

The district court had said that locks should be broken if the keys are not available to access certain areas of the complex for the survey. It also asked district authorities to register FIRs if the survey was not allowed.

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