A day after the court-ordered videographic survey of the Maa Shringar Gauri Sthal at the disputed Kashi Vishwanath Temple-Gyanvapi Mosque complex began in Varanasi, the process had to be halted on Saturday after the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee (Gyanvapi) filed an application in a local court seeking the replacement of Advocate Commissioner Ajai Kumar, accusing him of being “biased”.
On April 8, Civil Judge (Senior Division), Varanasi, Ravi Kumar Diwakar had appointed Kumar as advocate commissioner to carry out the survey and directed him to “prepare videography of the action” and submit a report.
The court’s direction came on a petition filed by five Hindu women in August 2021 seeking an order to allow them to worship at the site. Speaking to The Indian Express on Saturday, Advocate Hari Shankar Jain, who is representing the Hindu petitioners, said, “The survey could not be conducted as some people from the Muslim community didn’t let the Advocate Commissioner conduct the survey. At the place where the so-called mosque exists, some Muslims gathered at the entrance and didn’t let us enter. So, we had to return.”
Confirming that an application was filed in the court of Civil Judge (Senior Division), Varanasi, Ravi Kumar Diwakar, requesting the replacement of the Advocate Commissioner by the lawyers representing the mosque, Jain said, “The matter will be heard by the court on Monday and we will raise our objections to the hindrances being created by the Muslim side.” An official of the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee said, “When our objection is in the court seeking change of Advocate Commissioner, how can the same person head the commission which is conducting the survey,” said the official. Advocate Abhay Nath Yadav, who is representing Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, said, “We have filed an application seeking a replacement of the Advocate Commissioner. On Monday, the matter will be heard by the court again where all parties, including the Advocate Commissioner, will present their side.”
The survey had started on Friday afternoon and was halted briefly after a group of lawyers representing the mosque accused Kumar of being “biased”.
“Kumar didn’t act like a court-appointed official, and his behaviour showed bias towards the Hindu side during the survey,” Yadav, who was present during the survey, told The Indian Express on Friday evening.
On April 21, the Allahabad HC dismissed a petition filed by the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee (Gyanvapi), challenging the local court’s order, which had ordered the videographic survey.