Varanasi Court Issues Notice in Suit Seeking Removal of Gyanvapi Mosque

The suit was filed by ten individuals on behalf of deities, Shiva, Maa Shringar Gauri and Ganesh.

New Delhi: A district court in Varanasi has issued notice in a case filed seeking the “restoration” of a temple at the site of the Gyanvapi Mosque in the city, Bar and Bench has reported.

The suit was filed on behalf of deities, Shiva, Maa Shringar Gauri and Ganesh. Sabrang has reported that that ten individuals who have filed the suit have alleged that the temple was destroyed on orders of Aurangzeb in 1699.

The court has sought responses from the Centre, the Uttar Pradesh government, Varanasi District Magistrate, Varanasi Senior Superintendent of Police, the managers of the mosque, the board of trustees of the adjoining Kashi Vishawanath Temple and the Uttar Pradesh Muslim Personal Law Board.

The suit asks for “restoration of performance of rituals at the principal seat of an Ancient Temple at the Gyanvapi mosque area,” according to the Sabrang report.

The suit reportedly cites Article 25 of the constitution that offers freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion.

Noting that the mosque is an “obstacle” to this, it argues that Article 13(1), which notes that all laws existing before the constitution came into force are null void, should ensure that this obstacle no longer exists to prevent the “idol worshipper” from carrying out rituals there.

Also read: ‘Kashi-Mathura Baaqi Hain’: Why the Ayodhya Verdict Won’t Offer Any Respite From Saffron Hatred

The removal of the mosque has long since been a demand of the far right Hindutva movement in India and grew into the slogan, “Ayodhya-Babri sirf jhaanki hai, Kashi-Mathura ab baaqi hai.” It translates to, “Ayodhya and Babri were just trailers, Kashi and Mathura are still left.”

In 1992, the Babri mosque at Ayodhya was demolished by kar sevaks. In judgments in 2019 and 2020, a Supreme Court bench allotted the disputed land to the temple trust and a special CBI court acquitted all 32 accused of the crime, respectively.

In 2020, a group of individuals moved a Mathura civil court claiming that the Idgah mosque at Mathura, built during the rule of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, in 1669-70, is the exact birthplace of Krishna. In language similar to the Gyanvapi Mosque plea, the petition sought the “removal of encroachment and superstructure illegally raised”.