New Delhi: A Varanasi court has ordered the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to constitute a five member committee to carry out a survey of the Gyanvapi Mosque, located next to the famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
The court ordered the survey while ruling on a three-decade old petition, which contended that Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb had demolished an ancient temple of “Lord Vishweshwar” and “constructed a mosque with the help of the ruins of the said temple”.
In its order, the court asked the Director General of the ASI to “constitute a five-member committee of eminent persons who are experts and well-versed in the science of archaeology, two out of which should preferably belong to the minority community”.
The court also asked the ASI Chief to appoint an eminent person — a scholar or an established academician — as an observer for the committee.
The court has issues the following directions, among others.
- The Committee is to trace if any temple belonging to the Hindu community ever existed before the mosque was built or superimposed or added at the disputed site. If so, the Committee is to find out the age, size, monumental and architectural design or style etc. and what Hindu deity or deities the same was devoted to.
- The Committee is expected to be aware of the sensitivity of the matter and ensure that both Hindus and Muslims are equally respected.
- No general public or media will be allowed access to witness the survey work. No media briefings by the committee are allowed on survey work.
The matter will be taken up next on May 31, 2021.