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: Gyanvapi Mosque, located adjacent to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi, has been at the centre of a legal battle after five women petitioners Rakhi Singh, Laxmi Devi, Sita Sahu and others knocked on the doors of the court with their plea on April 18, 2022, seeking permission to offer prayers at ‘a Shringar Gauri Sthal’ inside the complex, prompting a Civil Judge (Senior Division), Ravi Kumar Diwakar to order a videography inspection. The case reached the Supreme Court after the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee (AIMC) moved a plea challenging the survey.Also Read – Gyanvapi Masjid Row: AIMPLB Slams Survey, Advocate Says Petitioners’ Claim About Shivling Misleading

However, the legal battle surrounding the Gyanvapi mosque is not new. The masjid has been grabbing limelight since 1937 as several petitions have been filed before the Supreme Court, Allahabad High Court and Varanasi Court claiming that Mughal emperor Aurangzeb built the mosque by demolishing the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in the 16th century.  Take a look at the timeline of event below.  Also Read – Supreme Court Lists AIFF Elections Matters on May 18

Gyanvapi Mosque Row: A Timeline of Events

  1. 1936: In 1936, three Muslim petitioners had demanded that the entire complex be declared a part of the mosque. Seven witnesses were produced on behalf of the claimants and 15 on behalf of the British Government.
  2. 1937: On 15th August 1937, the right to offer Namaz in Gyanvapi was granted explicitly adding that such prayers can be offered anywhere else in the complex.
  3. 1942: On 10th April 1942, the Allahabad High Court upheld the decision of lower court and dismissed the petition
  4. 1991: On 15th October 1991, petitioner Pandit Somnath Vyas (who claimed to be a descendant of Kashi Vishwanath temple priests) Dr Ramrang Sharma and others filed a suit in the Varanasi Court demanding the mosque land for the construction of a new temple. They argued that the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, didn’t apply to the mosque as it was allegedly built on the remnants of the old Visweshwar temple.
  5. 1998: Two petitions were filed on behalf of Anjuman Inazaniya Masjid and UP Sunni Waqf Board Lucknow against this order in the High Court in 1998.
  6. 2000: On March 7, 2000 Pandit Somnath Vyas passed away.
  7. 2018: Former district government advocate Vijay Shankar Rastogi appointed as a litigant in this case.
  8. 2021: On April 8, a local court in Varanasi directed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct a survey of the Gyanvapi Mosque.
  9. 2022: On April 18 2022, 5 women petitioners Rakhi Singh, Laxmi Devi, Sita Sahu and others knocked on the doors of the court seeking an order to allow them to worship at the disputed site.
  10. May 2022: Survey began and continued for three days.
  11. May 16, 2022: Court-mandated survey concluded and an advocate from the Hindu side, Madan Mohan Yadav, claimed that the shivling is Nandi faced. “The shivling is 12 feet by 8 inches in diameter,” he had said.

Gyanvapi Masjid Row: Current Status of The Case 

All eyes are set on the Supreme Court as it has agreed to hear the plea that challenged Allahabad High Court’s order that cleared the way for Advocate Commissioner to survey the Gyanvapi Masjid premises. A bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and PS Narasimha will hear the plea filed by Committee of Management Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, Varanasi.

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