The Archaeological Survey of India will undertake a survey of Varanasi’s Gyanvapi mosque tomorrow, according to the district magistrate. The survey, which was ordered by a local court on Friday, will start in the morning.

It will include all areas except the sealed “wuzukhana” where a building claimed by Hindu claimants to be a ‘Shivling’ – a relic of Lord Shiva – was uncovered during a survey in 2022. The ASI has until August 4 to present the report to the district court.

The judgement was issued in response to a petition filed by a group of women who say the mosque was erected on top of a Hindu temple. The women claim that ancient Hindu gods and goddesses are housed within the mosque and that only a scientific survey can reveal the truth.

In May, the Supreme Court postponed the “scientific survey,” which included carbon dating, of a “Shivling” purported to have been discovered at the Gyanvapi mosque complex during a videographic survey last year. The court also ordered the closure of the ‘wazukhana’ area.

Previously, the Allahabad High Court ordered the ASI to conduct a scientific investigation of the building, which Hindu petitioners alleged was a “Shivling.” According to Gyanvapi mosque officials, the building is part of a fountain in the “wazukhana,” where people perform ablutions before offering namaz.

The Varanasi district court dismissed a challenge by the mosque committee in September last year, arguing that the women’s lawsuit lacks legal validity.

The Gyanvapi mosque, which is located in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency, is one of several mosques that the right wing says were built on the remains of Hindu temples.
It was one of three temple-mosque rows raised by the BJP in the 1980s and 1990s, along with Ayodhya and Mathura.

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