Videography survey of Gyanvapi Masjid complex held peacefully, to resume on Sunday: Officials

The videography survey of the Gyanvapi Masjid complex in Varanasi which resumed on Saturday following a local court order was carried out without any interruption as all parties cooperated, officials said.

They said that the survey work will continue on Sunday.

The survey was stalled last week amid objections by the mosque committee, which claimed that the advocate commissioner appointed by the court for the survey did not have the mandate to film inside the premises.

“The survey work went on in a peaceful manner. There was no objection from anyone. Everything is normal and conducive, and all parties co-operated,” Police Commissioner of Varanasi A Satish Ganesh told PTI.

“Today’s survey is over, and it will continue tomorrow,” he said.

District Magistrate of Varanasi Kaushal Raj Sharma said, “Amid tight security arrangements, the videography of the Gyanvapi Masjid complex was held on Saturday, and almost 50 per cent of the survey work has been done.”

“The survey will continue on Sunday as well. It was conducted from 8 am to 12 noon. The Varanasi police commissioner and a trustee of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple Trust were also present during the survey,” Sharma said.

“Survey of more than 50 per cent of the place has been done. The survey work is confidential, and is done under the monitoring of the court. So, information regarding the places where the survey was done and what was found cannot be shared now,” he added.

Sharma also said that all parties were satisfied with Saturday’s survey, and it will resume on Sunday.

All parties, their advocates, court commissioners and videographers were present during the survey, Sharma said.

The mosque is located close to the iconic Kashi Vishwanath temple and the local court is hearing a plea by a group of women seeking permission for daily prayers before the idols on its outer walls.

An important meeting was held with all parties concerned on Friday, Sharma had said earlier, and added that an appeal was made to them to cooperate in the commission’s work and the maintenance of law and order.

More than 1,500 policemen and PAC jawans have been deployed as part of the security arrangement.

The officials said movement of people has been stopped at a distance of 500 metres from the Gyanvapi complex. The police have also stopped vehicular movement coming from Godaulia and Maidagin areas of the city.

Before entering the Gyanvapi premises, advocate Madan Mohan Yadav, who is appearing for the Hindu side, said all members of the survey team were told to assemble at 7.30 am at gate number 4 of the Kashi Vishwanath temple complex.

Special lights and cameras were arranged to carry out the survey work, he said.

The mosque management committee has indicated that it will cooperate for now with the team assigned the task by the court.

The advocates of both sides and the advocate commissioner refused to comment after coming out of the complex.

In his order on Thursday, District Civil Court (Senior Division) judge Ravi Kumar Diwakar had turned down a plea by the mosque committee to replace Ajay Kumar Mishra, who was appointed advocate commissioner by him to survey the Gyanvapi-Gauri Shringar complex.

The judge also appointed two more advocates to help the commissioner with the survey and said it should be completed by Tuesday.

The lawyers representing the Hindu and Muslim sides were present at the meeting held on Friday by the district magistrate.

Also on Friday, the Supreme Court refused to grant an interim order of status quo on the survey. The top court, however, agreed to consider listing the plea of a Muslim party against the survey.

The survey was stalled following objections by the mosque committee, which accused the advocate commissioner of bias and filed a plea for his replacement.

Advocate Yadav had said the three court-appointed advocate commissioners, five lawyers each from the two sides and an assistant, besides a videography team will carry out the survey.

People attended Friday prayers amid tight security outside the mosque.

In its order on Thursday, the district court said locks should be broken if the keys are not available to access certain areas of the complex for the survey.

It also asked the district authorities to register FIRs if the survey was not allowed.

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