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Varanasi Court Defers Gyanvapi Mosque Survey Report Reveal to Jan 3

The ASI survey report of the Gyanvapi mosque complex is now scheduled to be opened on January 3

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Gyanvapi Mosque in Varanasi
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A Varanasi district court on Thursday postponed the opening of an ASI survey report of the Gyanvapi mosque complex to January 3, when its copies will also be shared petitioners concerned.

The Varanasi court was to determine the fate of the 'scientific survey' report on the Gyanvapi mosque conducted by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Thursday. This survey was initiated by the Varanasi court to examine whether the late-17th century mosque was constructed atop a Hindu temple, excluding specific areas sealed by the Supreme Court.

On Monday, the ASI presented the report as a sealed document, sparking a debate on whether its contents should be made public. The Mosque committee argued against its public release, citing the sensitivity of the matter, while the petitioners contested the sealed status of the report.

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During the report submission, key ASI officials were present in court, emphasizing the significance of the findings. The ASI, having received multiple extensions to complete the survey, submitted its report amid heightened anticipation.

Advocate Madan Mohan Yadav highlighted, "The court has scheduled December 21 to unveil the sealed report and distribute copies to both sides' advocates. The Muslim side urged the court to keep the survey report confidential, while we urged the opposite."

In a related development, the Allahabad High Court dismissed all petitions by the mosque committee challenging civil suits seeking the restoration of a temple at the mosque site. The Varanasi court was directed to conclude the hearing of one such civil suit filed in 1991 within six months.

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The controversy revolves around claims by right-wing groups that a temple was demolished, under the order of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, to make way for the Gyanvapi mosque, situated adjacent to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple.

The survey was initiated following the Allahabad High Court's endorsement of the Varanasi court order, deeming it "necessary in the interest of justice" and beneficial for both parties in the dispute. Despite the Gyanvapi mosque committee's appeal to the Supreme Court against the survey, the court, on August 4, refused a stay and instructed non-invasive methods, ruling out excavations previously cleared by the Varanasi court.

Certain areas, including a structure claimed to be a 'shivling' based on a video survey, were declared off-limits by the top court. This decision followed concerns raised by the mosque management committee regarding unauthorized excavation activities, alleging a potential risk to the 354-year-old complex's structural integrity.

Advocate Madan Mohan Yadav, representing the Hindu petitioners, revealed that the sealed report was presented to the court by ASI's standing counsel Amit Srivastava. The court had mandated the survey in response to the petitioners' assertion that the 17th-century mosque was built over an existing temple, adding another layer of complexity to this longstanding dispute.

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