New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Varanasi district magistrate to protect the area where an alleged shivling was found inside the Gyanvapi Mosque complex but said it should not impede access to the mosque to offer prayers. The court issued notices to the Hindu petitioners and the Uttar Pradesh government on the plea of the Anjuman Intezamiya Masjid committee, which manages the affairs of Gyanvapi mosque, challenging the local court order that directed videographic survey of the mosque complex.
The court asked them to file their responses by May 19.
“The direction to protect the area where Shivling is reported to be found shall not in any manner restrain or impede access of Muslims to the mosque or use of it for performing prayers and religious observances,” the Supreme Court said.
Last week, the Supreme Court had refused to grant an interim status quo on the survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex. The top court, however, had agreed to consider listing the plea of the Muslim party against the survey.
The videography survey of the Gyanvapi Masjid complex was completed on Monday. Counsels representing the Hindu petitioners claimed that a Shivling was found close to the ‘wazookhana’ — a small reservoir used by Muslim devotees to perform rituals before offering the namaz.
A Varanasi court ordered the sealing of the pond in the Gyanvapi Masjid complex where the alleged shivling was found.
Civil Judge (Senior Division) Ravi Kumar Diwakar directed the district magistrate, police commissioner and CRPF commandant in Varanasi to ensure the security of the sealed area.