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Puja begins in Gyanvapi basement after court orders

Varanasi (UP), Feb 1 : More than 30 years after worship was banned in the basement of the Gyanvapi complex, barricading was removed at around midnight, within nine hours of the court’s order, and puja-aarti was performed and prasad was also distributed at the ‘Vyasji ka tehkhana’.

Following the court order regarding the basement located at Gyanvapi, top police and administration officials reached Vishwanath Dham, late on Wednesday night.

The officials earlier held a meeting regarding the implementation of the order given by the District Judge’s court regarding the arrangement of worship in the basement of Vyasji.

Puja started late on Wednesday night in the basement of Vyasji in the Gyanvapi complex while the ‘Mangala Aarti’ also took place early on Thursday.

In view of the puja, the security of the premises has been increased.

Divisional Commissioner Kaushal Raj Sharma said that in order to comply with the court’s order, regular worship will be conducted as per the rituals in the basement of Vyasji from Thursday morning.

The District Judge had directed the Receiver District Magistrate to get the worship of the idols and ‘Raag-Bhog’ done by the priest in the basement located to the south of the building at Settlement Plot No.-9130. The receiver was also instructed to make proper arrangements for the iron fence within seven days. The next hearing of the case will be on February 8. Meanwhile, the plaintiff and defendant parties can submit objections.

On September 25 last year, Shailendra Kumar Pathak Vyas had filed a suit in the court demanding handing over Vyasji’s basement to the District Magistrate and permission to worship as before December 1993.

It was feared in the suit that the basement might be forcibly taken over by the Anjuman Intejamia Masjid Committee.

On January 17, the District Judge had made the District Magistrate the receiver of Vyasji’s basement. The second demand was also accepted by allowing puja on Wednesday.

However, when asked in this regard, no police or administration officer was ready to say anything formally. Informally, the officers simply said that whatever order given by the court, was studied and followed as per the rules.

Divisional Commissioner Kaushal Raj Sharma said that in order to comply with the court’s order, regular worship is being conducted as per the rituals in the basement of Vyasji from Thursday morning. All the officers are still inside Kashi Vishwanath Dham. He says that arrangements have been made in order to comply with the court order.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has expressed happiness over the decision. International Working President Alok Kumar said: “I am happy that the court has asked the plaintiff and Kashi Vishwanath Trust to jointly appoint a priest.”

Plaintiff Shailendra Kumar Pathak Vyas cited the Advocate Commissioner’s report dated July 30, 1996 in the court. The commission had said in the report, apart from the plaintiff’s lock, there was an administration lock on the southern door of the basement. The plaintiff opened his lock with the key in front of the Advocate Commissioner, but could not go inside due to lack of permission from the administration to open the lock.

Shailendra Vyas said in the suit, the idol was worshiped in the basement. After December, 1993, priest Vyasji was stopped from entering the barricaded area of the said courtyard. Due to this, the Raga-Bhog rituals happening in the basement also stopped.

Priest Vyasji was there even during the British rule on hereditary basis and has performed puja till December, 1993. The state government and the district administration had since then stopped the puja inside the basement without any legal authority.

The administration later removed the basement door, the plaintiff said. Many ancient sculptures and other materials of religious importance related to the worship of Hindu religion are present in that basement. It is important to worship the idols present in the basement regularly.

The Anjuman Intejamia Masjid Committee said that no member of the Vyas family ever performed puja in the basement. There was no question of stopping the puja after December 1993. There was never any statue at that place. It is wrong to say that the people of Vyas family were in possession of the basement.

The basement is in the possession of the Masjid Committee. The committee also said that there was no idol of any deity in the basement.

The Masjid Committee argued that the case was barred by the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991. Vyasji’s basement is part of the Gyanvapi Mosque. In such a case the case is not maintainable. This should be rejected.

 

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