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Gyanvapi Mosque case: Plea filed in Varanasi court seeking ASI survey of Tehkhana

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A plea has been filed before a Varanasi court seeking a direction to the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) to carry out a thorough survey of the blocked cellars (Tehkhana) within the Gyanvapi mosque premises. This includes removing the blocked entrance and debris hindering access to the areas not yet surveyed by the ASI during its recently concluded survey. 

Reportedly, the application lodged under Section 75 (e) and Order 26 Rule 10A r/w Section 151 of CPC, has been moved by Rakhi Singh through Advocate Saurabh Tiwary. Notably, Rakhi Singh is also plaintiff no. 1 in the Shringar Gauri worshipping suit 2022, currently pending before the Varanasi court. 

Rakhi Singh, in the petition argued that the survey of remaining cellars is necessary to ensure the religious character of the property in question. The application further underlined that within the Gyanvapi premises, cellar no. N1 to N5 in the north and S1 to S3 in the south exist and cellars no N1 and S1 are completely not accessed as their entrances are blocked. 

Referring to the report of the ASI pertaining to the scientific survey of Gyanvapi Mosque, the petitioner submitted that since the four entrances on the western wall of N2, which give access to N1 are all blocked, nothing is known of its dimension or inner arrangement. However, it mentioned that the entrances measure approximately 1.75m in length and 1.11m in width. 

The petition also asserted that some cellars inside the mosque premises have not been surveyed because of their entrance being blocked. Following, the plea urged that the ASI may be directed to survey the cellars without causing any damage to the structure in question.

Meanwhile, the District Judge last week allowed regular worship of Hindu deities in the southern cellar of the Gyanvapi Masjid by a family of priests who used to perform rituals there before 1993. After the order, District Magistrate MS Rajalingam, along with other government officials, entered the mosque complex through gate number 4 of the Kashi Corridor and spent around two hours in the premises. 

Subsequently, the basement/tehkhana was unlocked and regular worship began in the area. Meanwhile, the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, which manages the mosque has already moved the Allahabad High Court challenging the Varanasi District Court’s order.  

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