The Varanasi District Court on Wednesday allowed Hindu prayers to be offered inside the Vyas Ka Tekhana (sealed basement area) of the Gyanvapi mosque complex. The court directed the district administration to make arrangements to start the puja within seven days.

The Anjuman Intezamia Committee of Gyanvapi Masjid will challenge the order in the Allahabad High Court, according to the committee’s counsel Merajuddin Siddiqui. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), which is advising the committee, called the district court’s decision “totally unacceptable”, drawing parallels to the opening of the locks at the Babri Masjid in 1986. “It seems after establishment of Ram Mandir at the site of the Babri Masjid, many other mosques are being targeted, no matter how old they might be,” AIMPLB spokesman S.Q.R. Ilyas told The Hindu.

According to the petitioner, Hindu priests appointed by the Vyas family had performed daily rituals in the temple at this spot within the complex before 1993, till it was stopped on the orders of the State government. However, an Anjuman Intezamia committee member, who did not wish to be named, contested the claim. “There has never been any puja conducted there. It is a baseless contention,” he said.

Puja arrangements in seven days

The order permitting prayers to resume came on the last working day of district judge Ajay Krishna Vishwesha, who has been hearing multiple pleas related to worship rights in the Gyanvapi mosque. In this particular case, a September 2023 application filed by Shailendra Kumar Pathak, priest of the Acharya Ved Vyas Peeth temple, had sought worship of the visible and invisible deities in the basement of the mosque.

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