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Videographic survey of Gyanvapi mosque to begin on Saturday, says official after SC refuses status quo

District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma said that the exercise is being undertaken after informing all the stakeholders to maintain peace and order.

Supreme Court refused to order a stay on the decision of the local court but listed it for urgent hearing.

A day after a Varanasi court gave its go-ahead to conduct a videographic survey at the Gyanvapi mosque, a Varanasi district official announced on Friday that the videography inside the mosque premises will resume tomorrow, Saturday. Hearing the same matter, the Supreme Court today refused to order a stay on the decision of the local court but listed it for urgent hearing.

District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma said that the exercise is being undertaken after informing all the stakeholders to maintain peace and order. “As for the appeal before the Supreme Court, it is up to the court-appointed commissioners. We are starting the process tomorrow,” he said.

On Saturday, survey commissioner Ajay Kumar Mishra and the legal team representing both communities were stopped outside the mosque, which lies adjacent to the iconic Kashi Vishwanath temple, by a few men from proceeding with the court-mandated video survey. The inspection was ordered by the local court upon hearing a year-long petition of five women asking permission to open up the mosque premises to worship Hindu deities behind the mosque. They also sought access to “visible and invisible deities within the old temple complex”.

While the Gyanvapi mosque committee and its lawyers opposed any videography inside the mosque, the lawyers of the petitioners claimed that they have the court’s nod.

The mosque row first gained prominence in 1991 when a group of petitioners and local priests asked for access inside the mosque for the worship of Hindu gods and goddesses. One of the petitioners Vijay Shankar Rastogi even called for the demolition of the mosque stating that the mosque was built back in the 17th century by Aurangzeb after the destruction of a portion of the iconic Kashi Vishwanath temple, which was built by Maharaja Vikaramaditya roughly 2,050 years back.

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