Court orders unsealing of ASI’s Gyanvapi report

Gyanvapi Jamia masjid located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. [Photo: Wikimedia]

Varanasi: The Fast Track Court (FTC) under the jurisdiction of Civil Judge (senior division) Prashant Kumar Singh in Varanasi has issued an order to unseal the Gyanvapi survey report conducted by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

On Tuesday, the court directed the ASI’s survey report to be unsealed and handed over to the plaintiff in the original suit (suit no. 610/1991) – Swayambhu Lord Vishweshwar vs Anjuman Intezamia Masjid (AIM)-Gyanvapi Mosque Management Committee and others, IANS reported.

The ASI’s report provided to the district court was opened on January 25, revealing its contents to the public. However, the report submitted to the FTC is still awaiting unsealing.

Advocate Vijay Shankar Rastogi, representing Swayambhu Jyotirlinga Bhagwan Vishweshwar, explained that following an order from the Allahabad High Court on December 19, 2023, the ASI was directed to conduct a comprehensive survey of the entire Gyanvapi mosque, covering three plots – numbers 9130, 9131, and 9132.

In compliance with this directive, the FTC in Varanasi, on January 4, instructed the ASI to submit its survey report on the Gyanvapi mosque by January 19. The ASI submitted the report in sealed envelopes before the FTC on January 24, following an extension.

Rastogi further stated, “On Tuesday, the court ordered the provision of certified copies of the report to me and the AIM. After reviewing the report, I intend to submit an application detailing the areas on the Gyanvapi premises where further ASI survey is deemed necessary.”

He added, “ASI’s prior scientific investigation of the Gyanvapi compound utilized ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and other modern techniques. However, these radars failed to yield tangible results, especially regarding the Garbha Griha of the Hindu temple, situated beneath the floor beneath the central dome. In the lawsuit, the ASI will be required to undertake an underground exploration by creating a trench.”

Meanwhile, the court has scheduled the next hearing for February 5, during which it will address the pleas by the two sons of the late litigant Harihar Pandey, as well as the grandson of Somnath Vyas and the head priest of Acharya Ved Vyas Peeth Temple, Shailendra Kumar Pathak Vyas.

Somnath Vyas and Harihar Pandey were two of the three original litigants who initiated this suit in 1991, seeking the removal of the mosque from the Gyanvapi land.

Rastogi, opposing the applications of Harihar Pandey’s sons and Vyas to join as parties in the original suit, mentioned that the court has scheduled February 5 as the date for the hearing on these applications.

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