In claims likely to deepen the Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi row, two reports on a videography survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex state that debris of old temples were found at the corner of the northern and western walls outside the barricading, and Hindu motifs such as bells, kalash, flowers and trishul were visible on pillars in the tehkhana (basement).
The two reports have been submitted to the Varanasi court which ordered the survey. Also Thursday, the Supreme Court, agreeing to a request to defer the hearing on an appeal challenging the orders of the Varanasi court, asked the court not to take any further action in the matter until Friday.
Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain, who filed an application in the Supreme Court “for bringing on record additional facts and documents”, said “after the reports filed by the Advocate Commission, it is evident that the disputed structure is having the religious character of a Hindu temple”. He said Mughal emperor Aurangzeb’s “action of taking forcible possession of a religious place cannot change the nature of property and also the ownership rights of the existing deity.”
In his report conducted on May 6-7, Ajay Kumar Mishra, who was removed as the Advocate Commissioner on May 17, stated that debris of old temples were found at the corner of the northern and western walls outside the barricading, and structures of gods and goddesses and lotus were spotted. One shilapatt (plaque) had the Sheshnag design and was videographed, the report stated.
Mishra, who filed a two-page report in the Varanasi court, said, “The survey on May 6 and 7 was done by me and it was in the outer area of the mosque complex. I have since been removed from the position of Advocate Commissioner. I found it necessary to submit the report of my work to the court. Now it is up to the court to consider it as part of the survey report or not.”
The second report on the survey by the commission runs into 12 pages and was submitted in court Thursday morning by Special Advocate Commissioner Vishal Singh in the presence of Assistant Advocate Commissioner Ajay Pratap Singh. Along with the written report, Singh also submitted video recordings as evidence in three sealed boxes — videos from the survey on May 14, 15 and 16. On these three days, the survey was done jointly by Vishal Singh, Ajay Pratap Singh and Ajay Kumar Mishra.
Vishal Singh told reporters that the report had been drafted fairly. He said the report was about the inner area of the Gyanvapi mosque.
S M Yaseen, Joint Secretary of Anjuman Intezamia Masajid, the committee that manages the Gyanvapi mosque, said, “Secrecy of the report and the entire commission is no more maintained. The court should take cognizance of it. With the leak of the report in public, the security of Gyanvapi mosque and Kashi Vishwanth temple is in danger. The Supreme Court should also take note of it and strict action should be taken against those responsible for it.”
Raees Ahmed, counsel for the mosque management committee, said, “The report coming out informally is inappropriate. The court and administration should fix accountability in this matter.” Ahmed said he will file an application in court Friday to get a copy of the report.
In his report, Mishra speaks of the survey from 3.30 pm to 5.45 pm on May 6, and again on May 7 from 3 pm to 4.50 pm when it was stopped because over 100 people had assembled there.
According to the report, shapes of four idols were seen on one shilapatt and was ‘sindoori’ coloured. All plaques lying on the ground appeared to be dismantled parts of a huge building, the report stated. Some of the designs on these plaques appeared similar to designs on the western wall of the mosque, the report stated.
During the survey, Mishra asked the petitioners and their lawyers whether the “sindoor” plated structures and a ‘chaukhat’-like plaque was the same Shringar Gauri mentioned in their claims. In response, the petitioners claimed that these were remnants (‘avshesh’) of the ‘chaukhat’ of the Shringar Gauri temple and were worshipped.
In the Supreme Court, Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain, appearing for the Hindu parties, sought adjournment by a day. He told the bench presided by Justice D Y Chandrachud that Senior Advocate Hari Shankar Jain, representing them before the Varanasi court, was indisposed and had been discharged from hospital only Wednesday.
Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, representing the Committee of Management of Anjuman Intezamia Masajid, Varanasi, which filed the appeal, said he had no objection to the adjournment but his “only apprehension is that an application has been filed to demolish a wall near the wazu khana” and “it is necessary that the Trial Court which is continuing to hear the proceedings today may desist from doing so until this Court takes up the proceedings tomorrow.”
To a query from the bench, Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain said that in view of the apprehension expressed by the other side, they would not press for any orders from the trial court until the Supreme Court hears it Friday. The bench recorded the undertaking and said in its order, “Mr Jain states that the proceedings before the Trial Court shall not be pressed any further hereafter until the Court takes up the matter tomorrow. We accordingly direct the Trial Court to strictly act in terms of the above arrangement and to desist from taking up further proceedings in the suit in view of the consensus which has been arrived at between the parties”.
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On May 17, the Supreme Court, while declining to stay proceedings before the Varanasi court, had asked the Varanasi district magistrate to secure the area where a Shivling was claimed to have been found during the videographic survey of the mosque area without impeding or restricting the rights of Muslims to access and offer namaz at the mosque.