By Omar Rashid

New Delhi: A district judge in Varanasi on Wednesday (January 31) – his last working day before retirement – allowed Hindus to worship inside a sealed basement of the the Mughal-era Gyanvapi Masjid in a decision that could have far-reaching consequences in the Gyanvapi Masjid-Kashi Vishwanath Temple legal matter that is being heard in courts at all three levels of the judiciary.

Now, Hindu priests and Hindu devotees visiting the Kashi Vishwanath Temple would also get access to visit and perform puja inside the tehkhana of the mosque.

The Hindu plaintiffs, who are seeking religious rights within the mosque as well as its ultimate possession from Muslims, dubbed the court’s order as a victory and equated it to the controversial unlocking of the Babri Masjid in 1986.

The Babri Masjid was eventually demolished by a mob of Hindu activists assembled at the call of members of the Sangh parivar on December 6, 1992.

The court passed the order on an application filed by local priest who sought rights to worship the Maa Shringar Gauri and other alleged visible and invisible deities he claimed were in the mosque’s cellar.The caretakers of the Gyanvapi Masjid were stunned by the district court order and said the court accepted claims made by the temple side without seeking any evidence.

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