The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has begun a court-ordered survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex in Varanasi.
The purpose of the survey is to determine whether the current structure was built on top of a pre-existing Hindu temple. The survey commenced on Monday (24 July) morning.
In preparation for the survey, parking facilities and barricades have been put in place.
"Parking facilities have been made and barricading has also been done. All devotees can take a ‘darshan’ smoothly, and all security arrangements are in place,” DCP Kashi Zone, Ram Sewak Gautam, was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
At 7 am, a 30-member ASI team entered the mosque complex to conduct the survey. They arrived in Varanasi on Sunday and were joined at the survey site by the lawyers representing the Hindu petitioners involved in the legal dispute.
On Friday (21 July), a Varanasi court had directed the ASI to perform a scientific investigation, survey, and excavation of the mosque premises, reports The Indian Express.
District and Sessions Judge Ajaya Krishna Vishvesha directed the ASI to conduct ground penetrating radar survey beneath the three domes of the building. If necessary, excavation will also be conducted.
The judge has ordered that the survey proceedings be recorded on video and the report must be submitted to the court by 4 August.
The survey will not include the 'wuzukhana' area, which was sealed last year following orders from the Supreme Court after the Hindu litigants claimed the presence of a Shivling, while Muslim litigants argued it is a fountain.
The Hindu litigants argue that the mosque was constructed on the site where the original Kashi Vishwanath temple stood.
On the other hand, the Muslim litigants claim that the mosque was built on Waqf premises. They also point out that the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, prohibits altering the character of any place of worship that existed prior to 15 August 1947.
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