Sunday, Jul 03, 2022
Ground Report

Gyanvapi: Tales Of Fear, Hope And Redemption From Ancient Kashi

Gyanvapi Mosque-Kashi Viswanath Temple Dispute: Kashi is where fact, faith and fiction come together to form a unique tapestry of text, subtext and context.

Ancient lanes Once, they led to the Kashi Vishwanath temple. Since the Corridor was built, they bear Photograph: Tribhuvan Tiwari

Ali Akbar was fixing his tray of flower and incense bowls for pilgrims at a shop outside the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi on Friday, May 20, when he saw the police. “A regular fixture here,” he tells Outlook. That day, however, there were hundreds of cops. “It’s Jumma [Friday prayers]. They’re exp­ecting trouble,” he adds. Earlier on Thursday, members of the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee issued an appeal to Muslims in the area to not crowd the Gyanvapi mosque this week. By 1pm, however, the street outside Gate 4, the common entrance to the Gyanvapi-Vis­h­w­a­nath complex, were chock-a-block with local devotees turning up in hordes to pray at the 17th century mosque. Many had to be dispersed into other nearby mos­ques after police claimed Gyanvapi was full. “Gyanvapi mosque is usually not this crowded,” says Akbar, who worked at a shop owned by a Hindu, selling items of Hindu faith. “But with Hindus wanting to pray inside it, things are cha­nging. Some people are afraid they might not be able to enter the mosque again,” Akbar says.

Dharam Yuddha