LAWYERS REPRESENTING the Hindu side in a case related to the Gyanvapi-Kashi Vishwanath temple case told the Allahabad High Court on Thursday that before 1993, puja was done at the site round the year.
The court was hearing a civil revision filed by the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee (AIMC), which had challenged the maintainability of the suit filed by five Hindu women from Varanasi who are seeking the right to “worship deities in the Gyanvapi mosque complex”.
On September 12, a court in Varanasi rejected an application of the AIMC, which had challenged the maintainability of the suit.
On Thursday, Hari Shankar Jain, representing the five women in the High Court, said, “I told the court about the Deen Mohammad case which the Muslim side relies on, saying that it is in their favour. In that case, Hindus were not party, but still testimonies were recorded and 10 witnesses from the government had said that puja of deities was done there. And the puja happened till 1993. That year, the Mulayam Singh Yadav-led SP government put iron fences there. Before that, it was open and people used to do puja there. That year, puja was stopped there and one day was granted for it. December 13 has been fixed as the next date of hearing when I will tell the court in detail about the Deen Mohammad case and what witnesses had said. I will also share details on how the case doesn’t favour the Muslims as they claim.”
He added, “On Thursday, I told the court about the situation at the site. I have told the court that what the situation is after the demolition of the temple at the site. I told the court what remains there… where Hindus were doing puja.”
“I showed the court the maps showing where the old temple was, and how much was encroached by Muslims and the structure began to be referred to as a mosque. I told the court that the whole structure is of the Hindu temple. Another thing I told the court was that for decades, Hindu puja was being done on the premises…” the petitioners’ lawyer further said.
Countering Jain’s claims, Syed Farman Ahmad Naqvi, who represented the AIMC in the High Court, said that in the Deen Mohammad case of 1936-37, the courts had held that the Gyanvapi mosque belongs to Muslims and is a Waqf property.
“In the Deen Mohammad case filed in 1936, it was claimed by him that the government is creating hindrances in offering of namaz and that the Gyanvapi mosque is a Waqf property. A Varanasi court had said that it is a Waqf property and belongs to Muslims. For the open space in the complex, the court had said it will not be used by Muslims. The same thing was established by the High Court too – that the mosque and its adjoining area is a Waqf property. The Hindu side had filed an application to become party, but it was rejected by the courts.
“As far as testimonies are concerned, the officials and people had told the court that puja is done there on the mosque premises. That is not against anyone or in their favour. We are also saying that once a year, puja was and is done there. And this was not inside the mosque. It was at a fair distance from the mosque building where puja is done. We have no objection to puja being done there. They can do puja once a year,” said Naqvi. “If someone starts doing puja somewhere, it does not become their property,” he added.