The Supreme Court today asked the Varanasi administration where exactly the ‘Shivling’ (symbol of Lord Shiva) was found inside Gyanvapi mosque in the Uttar Pradesh city.
The Supreme Court’s question to the administration came during the hearing of a petition by the mosque committee that sought a direction to the authorities in Varanasi to stop the filming of the mosque complex.
“Where exactly was the ‘Shivling’ found?” Justice DY Chandrachud said.
“We haven’t seen the report,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the Uttar Pradesh government, replied, and sought time till tomorrow to return with details.
Mr Mehta said the place where the ‘Shivling’ was found was sealed to avoid any law and order issues if someone who came to offer namaz (prayers) touched it with their feet. The ‘Shivling’ was said to be found in a pond, used for “wazoo” or purification rituals before namaz.
The Supreme Court then told the Varanasi District Magistrate to ensure that if the ‘Shivling’ was found, the area should be protected, but without impeding Muslims from coming to the mosque for namaz.
Yesterday, after a sensational claim by Hindu petitioners that a “Shivling” had been found in a pond at Gyanvapi masjid complex, a local court had ordered it sealed. The “Shivling” was said to be found during a court-mandated filming of the mosque complex following a petition seeking access to pray at a shrine behind the mosque.
Muslim petitioners rejected the assertion, claiming it was a “fountain, not a Shivling”.
During the Supreme Court hearing today, the Muslim petitioners questioned how the city court ordered the place to be sealed when the report of the committee, which surveyed the complex, has not been submitted yet.
“How did the court proceed based on the submission of the other party and seal the place? Look at the way the orders are passed,” the Muslim petitioners told the Supreme Court.
The Gyanvapi mosque stands next to the iconic Kashi Vishwanath temple. Five women petitioners have asked the court to allow daily prayers before idols on its outer walls as well as other “visible and invisible deities within the old temple complex”. The site is currently open for prayers once a year.
The Varanasi Civil Court ordered a video assessment of the mosque complex, including three domes, underground basements and the pond, and appointed court commissioners for the task.