Gyanvapi mosque row: Section 144 imposed in Varanasi ahead of key verdict today | The Financial Express

Gyanvapi mosque row: Section 144 imposed in Varanasi ahead of key verdict today

Security has been heightened in the city ahead of the key verdict and prohibitory orders under Section 144 are in place since Sunday. Police have been deployed in large numbers in areas housing a sizeable population from both the communities in order to prevent any unnecessary law and order situation.

Gyanvapi mosque row: Section 144 imposed in Varanasi ahead of key verdict today
The sun sets over the Gyanvapi Mosque Photographer: Kanishka Sonthalia/Bloomberg

Gyanvapi masjid case: The Varanasi court on Monday is set to deliver its judgement on the maintainability of the petitions filed by five Hindu women to worship inside the Gyanvapi masjid, located adjacent to the iconic Kashi Vishwanath temple.

After hearing the petitions by the Hindu side as well as the Gyanvapi masjid committee, District Judge AK Vishvesha, last month, had reserved his judgement till September 12 in the case whether the petitions by the Hindu side to worship Hindu deities inside the Gyanvapi mosque is “maintainable.”

ALSO READ| What is the Places of Worship Act, the decades-old law at the centre of the Gyanvapi Mosque case?

Security has been heightened in the city ahead of the key verdict and prohibitory orders under Section 144 are in place since Sunday. Police have been deployed in large numbers in areas housing a sizeable population from both the communities in order to prevent any unnecessary law and order situation, Police Commissioner, A Satish Ganesh told news agency ANI.

In May, while directing the transfer of the ‘maintainability’ case from the lower court to the Varanasi district judge’s court, the top court stated, “Keeping the complexity and sensitivity of the matter in view, the civil suit before the civil judge in Varanasi shall be heard before a senior and experienced judicial officer of the UP judicial service.”

Prior to that, the Varanasi civil court had ordered for the videography of the Gyanvapi masjid premises after the Hindu women, in their petitions, claimed that there were Hindu deities inside the complex. After a report of the videography was submitted to the court in a sealed envelope, news of a ‘shivling’ found inside the ‘wazookhana’ during the exercise surfaced. The Muslim side vehemently opposed the claim, stating that structure was part of a fountain inside the purification chamber.

After the alleged controversial finding got leaked to the media, the court ordered for the mosque to be sealed. The masjid committee moved the Supreme Court pleading challenging the videographic survey, claiming that the exercise violated the Places of Worship Act, 1991, which safeguards the religious status of any places of worship as they existed at the time of India’s independence.

Also Read: Supreme Court to hear pleas challenging constitutional validity of Places of Worship Act on October 11

On May 17, the top court asked the District Magistrate of Varanasi to protect the area where the shivling was claimed to be found, while ordering the re-entry of Muslims for offering prayers and observing religious rituals.

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