A day after the Supreme Court asked the Varanasi district magistrate to secure the wazu khana area where a Shivling was claimed to have been found during a videographic survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex, without impeding or restricting the rights of Muslims to offer namaz, the faithful flocked to the mosque for prayers and the mosque committee asked them to perform wazu at home before heading there.
In the adjoining Kashi Vishwanath complex, an idol of Nandi, gazing in the direction of the Gyanvapi mosque, has been drawing crowds ever since the claim of the discovery of the Shivling during the survey of the mosque complex.
“Is that the place where the Shivling has been found?” asked Gulabrao, a pilgrim from Maharashtra, pointing towards the mosque. Priest Ganeshi, seated near the Nandi idol, told the devotees: “Yes, wahin mile hain Baba (Lord Shiva). Hum log to pehle se jaante thhe ki Baba andar hain (Yes, Baba has been found there. We knew all along that Baba is there).” Nandi, he said, always faces the Lord.
Another priest, Ravi Pandey, had a different take: “Jo zakhm bhar chuke hain, unhe kyun khureden. Sauhard bana rehna zaroori hai (Why scratch wounds that have healed. It is important to maintain harmony).”
S M Yaseen, Joint Secretary of the Anjuman Intezamia Masajid which manages the Gyanvapi mosque, said: “Namaz is being offered everyday without any obstruction. But the faithful are not able to do wazu because the area where water is available through taps has been sealed. We have requested the namazis to do wazu at home before coming to the mosque. Water in drums has been made available to them, but it is not sufficient. On an average, 200-500 namazis visit the mosque for namaz every time.”
District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma said for the convenience of the faithful who come to offer namaz, an application has been filed in court, seeking direction for shifting a water pipe outside. He said orders of the Supreme Court regarding the matter have been complied with — the top court will hear the matter again Thursday.
“Area is already secure and namazis are visiting the mosque without any problem. I have also spoken to the Intezamia Committee of the mosque. They have arranged 2-3 drums with water for wazu,” he said.
On the security arrangements, Sharma said the mosque area already had CRPF security cover. After the court order, personnel have been deployed in the sealed area in the courtyard. “Dy SPs and SP (Security) have been directed to visit the premises regularly. Security personnel have been directed to stay alert.”
The local court was to hear two petitions related to the Gyanvapi matter Wednesday, but that did not take place as lawyers in the district were on a strike in protest against remarks of a government official.
Meanwhile, the women petitioners, who have been seeking permission for daily prayers at Maa Shringar Gauri Sthal on the outer wall of the mosque complex, filed an application in court asking that a report be obtained from Ajay Kumar Mishra — he was removed as the Advocate Commissioner Tuesday — on the survey done under his supervision on May 6 and 7.
“Without taking his cooperation, the commission’s report will remain incomplete,” the application stated. It said the survey on May 14, 15, 16 was conducted jointly by Mishra, Special Advocate Commissioner Vishal Singh and Assistant Advocate Commissioner Ajay Pratap Singh. Sudhir Tripathi, counsel for the applicants, said the application will be heard by the court Thursday.