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Hindu prayers to continue at Gyanvapi, Allahabad HC rejects Masjid committee’s plea

IANS | February 26, 2024 11:29 AM

PRAYAGRAJ: The Allahabad High Court on Monday rejected the plea filed by Muslim side challenging the Varanasi court order allowing Hindu parties to offer prayers and puja in the southern cellar of the Gyanvapi Mosque.

Justice Rohit Ranjan Agarwal delivered the verdict.

The single-judge had reserved order in the matter on February 15.

The plea was filed by the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee challenging a January 31 district court order, permitting the conduct of Hindu prayers in the southern cellar or basement (tehkhana) of the Gyanvapi Mosque.

The said order was passed amid an ongoing civil court case involving conflicting claims over the religious character of the Gyanvapi compound.

Among other claims, the Hindu side has said that Hindu prayers were earlier offered by the family of one Somnath Vyas in the mosque's cellar until 1993, when the Mulayam Singh Yadav-led government allegedly stopped it.

The Muslim side has opposed this claim and maintained that Muslims have always had possession over the mosque's building.

The main dispute over the Gyanvapi compound involves a claim by the Hindu side that a section of an ancient temple on the said land was destroyed during the rule of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in the 17th century.

The Muslim side has maintained that the mosque predated Aurangzeb's reign and that it had endured various alterations over time.

Following the Varanasi district court's order on January 31 which allowed priests to perform prayers before the idols in the southern cellar of Gyanvapi, religious ceremonies were performed on the mosque's premises at midnight on February 1.

Later, the southern cellar was opened to devotees.

On February 13, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also visited the Gyanvapi premises and worshipped at the 'Vyas Ka Tekhana'.

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