Gyanvapi management moves HC against Varanasi court allowing puja in mosque basement

Gyanvapi management moves HC against Varanasi court allowing puja in mosque basement

Prayagraj/Varanasi | The Gyanvapi mosque management committee moved the Allahabad High Court on Thursday challenging a Varanasi court order that allowed Hindu prayers before idols in a cellar of the mosque.

Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee counsel SFA Naqvi said they have requested an urgent hearing in the matter.

They moved the HC within hours of the Supreme Court refusing to hear their plea against the Varanasi district court's order and asking them to approach the HC.

The Varanasi court had ruled on Wednesday that a priest can perform prayers before the idols in the southern cellar of the Gyanvapi Masjid.

The prayers will be conducted by a "pujari" nominated by the Kashi Vishwanath temple trust.

Shailendra Kumar Pathak, who had petitioned the Varanasi district court seeking the right to worship there, had claimed that his grandfather Somnath Vyas offered puja there up to December 1993 when it was stopped by the administration.

Hindu side lawyer Madan Mohan Yadav has said that puja stopped there during the tenure of chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav after Babdi masjid was demolished on December 6, 1992.

Meanwhile, prayers were performed before idols in the cellar on Wednesday night following the Varanasi court order, Kashi Vishwanath temple trust president Nagendra Pandey said.

"Vyas ji's cellar was opened after 31 years for prayers," temple trust president Nagendra Pandey told PTI in Varanasi.

He said the southern cellar was opened at around 10.30 pm on Wednesday. Asked if prayers were performed in the basement, he said, "Yes."

"It was necessary to follow the court's orders, so the district administration made all the arrangements with great promptness," Pandey added.

District Magistrate S Rajlingam said, "I have complied with the court's order." Some locals claimed that after cleaning the cellar, an 'aarti' was offered to Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha.

Nagendra Pandey said, "Now regular puja will be performed in the cellar. Like in the Kashi Vishwanath temple where puja is performed five times a day, similarly in Vyas ji ka tahkhana, raag-bhog and aarti of deities will be done."

"A team of priests from the Kashi Vishwanath temple nyas will be deputed to conduct puja in the cellar. The priests will perform pujas as per their duty scheduled by the Kashi Vishwanath temple nyas (trust)," he added.

Pandey said that at the time of the building of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple corridor, the members of Vyas family had handed over the right to perform puja to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple Trust as per an agreement.

Hence, the right to perform puja resides with the Trust, he said.

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