A survey of the barricaded area of the Gyanvapi mosque by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) will begin from Monday even as the mosque management committee has filed a petition in the Supreme Court against an order by the court of the Varanasi district judge allowing the exercise.
The development comes days after the Varanasi court on Friday ordered an extensive survey of the barricaded area of the Gyanvapi Masjid, excluding its sealed section, by ASI to ascertain whether the mosque was built over a pre-existing Hindu temple, holding that the scientific investigation is "necessary" for the "true facts" to come out.
Varanasi District Magistrate S. Rajalingam confirmed, "The ASI survey will begin on Monday."
He said all the parties, including plaintiffs and defendants, related to the matter have been informed about it.
The Varanasi District Magistrate and the Commissioner of Police Ashok Mutha Jain held a meeting with the Hindu plaintiffs, their counsel, including Subhash Nandan Chaurvedi, Sudhir Tripathi and defendants Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee joint secretary S.M. Yasin and their counsel.
The Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee looks after the management of the Gyanvapi mosque.
Tight security arrangements will be put in place during the survey, the District Magistrate added.
The Varanasi court order sought a report from ASI up to August 4 when the matter will be taken up next. The court, however, ordered excluding the section which has remained sealed since the Supreme Court order in May 2022.
The area under seal is where Hindus insist a Shivling has been found, while Muslims claim it is part of a fountain.
Meanwhile, Vishwa Vedic Sanatan Sangh International Chief, Jitendra Singh Visen, said that on behalf of the plaintiff Rakhi Singh, advocate Anupam Dwivedi will remain present in the ASI survey.
Security around the Kashi Vishwanath temple and Gyanvapi mosque has been beefed up.
Earlier, allowing an application by four Hindu women plaintiffs, district judge Ajay Krishna Vishvesha on Friday directed ASI to conduct a comprehensive survey, using dating, excavation and ground penetrating radar (GPR) techniques, of the plot where the mosque stands, next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple.
"The director of ASI is directed to conduct a detailed scientific investigation by using GPR Survey, excavation, dating method and other modern techniques of the present structure (mosque) to find out as to whether same has been constructed over a pre-existing structure of a Hindu temple," said the court order.
The court order came on applications moved by four of the five Hindu plaintiffs who filed a suit in August 2021, demanding the right of unhindered worship at the Maa Shringar Gauri Sthal.
Rekha Pathak, Manju Vyas, Sita Sahu, and Lakshmi Devi filed the application for the survey.
Their pleas were argued by advocates Hari Shankar Jain, Vishnu Jain, Sudhir Tripathi and Subhash Nandan Chaturvedi.
The mosque management committee, in its reply, refuted that the mosque was built over a temple, maintaining the structure at the spot was always a mosque.
Represented through advocates Ansari and Ikhlaaq Ahmad, the management committee opposed the survey, saying such an exercise cannot be ordered to collect evidence.
It was also argued that a survey by an advocate commissioner was previously conducted in 2022 and until the validity of that survey is not decided, no new survey can be ordered.