Hindus Worship in Gyanvapi Cellar, 30 Years After It Was Sealed by Mulayam Yadav

GG News Bureau
Varanasi, 1st Feb: 
After a district court ordered the unsealing of a cellar in the basement of Varanasi’s Gyanvapi mosque, members of a Hindu priest’s family have started praying there. The premises had been sealed for 30 years on the orders of former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, shortly after the Babri Masjid demolition.

The Hindu side has been allowed to offer prayers, and the district administration has been given seven days to make the necessary arrangements. “Everyone will have the right to pray there,” said Vishnu Shankar Jain, the lawyer for the Hindu side.

There was a flurry of activity near the mosque, which is located next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple, as Hindu devotees arrived to pray in the cellar, known as Vyas ka tehkana. Members of a Hindu outfit, Rashtriya Hindu Dal, were seen adding the word “mandir” (temple) to a sign near the mosque. The puja (prayer) began at around 3 am today, and heavy security forces have been deployed to prevent any untoward incidents.

The mosque has four cellars in its basement, one of which was occupied by a family of priests who used to live there. According to the petitioner and a member of the family, Shailendra Pathak, Somnath Vyas, a member of the Vyas family, offered prayers in the cellar before it was sealed in 1993. Pathak argued in court that as hereditary priests, they should be allowed to enter the structure and worship there. The court has ordered the district administration to ensure that prayers can be held inside the cellar within a week.

The mosque committee has stated that they will challenge the court’s order in the Allahabad High Court, claiming that this is a politically motivated move. “The same approach is being adopted as in the Babri Masjid case,” said their counsel Merajuddin Siddiqui.

Yesterday’s order is seen as a significant development in the Gyanvapi case, where Hindu petitioners have sought permission to pray in the mosque complex. The Archaeological Survey of India, which conducted a survey of the premises, has shared its report with the petitioners and the mosque committee. The report concluded that a large Hindu temple existed on the site before the mosque was built. Four Hindu women have now approached the Supreme Court, requesting excavation and a scientific survey of a sealed section ordered by the court.

Leader of the Opposition Akhilesh Yadav has emphasized the importance of following due process in implementing the court order. The Varanasi Court has set a 7-day period for this. “What we are witnessing now is a concerted effort to bypass due process and prevent any legal recourse,” he said.

The BJP has refrained from commenting on yesterday’s development, stating that the matter is subjudice. Hindu organizations such as the Vishva Hindu Parishad have welcomed the ruling. “Today, a court in Kashi has made a very important decision, bringing joy to every Hindu’s heart,” said VHP working president Alok Kumar.

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