BJP spokesperson Prem Shukla has made a shocking disclosure amid the uproar over the court-mandated videography survey inside the disputed Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri temple complex in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. He claimed that Samajwadi Party ideologue Mulayam Singh Yadav had barred Hindus from worshipping at the Mata Shringar Gauri temple while he was the chief minister of the state.
Notably, the ongoing controversy over the survey and the videography of the disputed Gyanvapi structure which is believed to be the original Kashi Vishwanath Mandir, destroyed by Mughals, is also related to the worship of Mata Shringar Gauri Sthal, which stands on the compound of the disputed Gyanvapi complex. In April 2021, Delhi-based Rakhi Singh, along with four other women had filed a petition in court seeking permission for daily worship of idols of Maa Shringar Gauri in the temple premises.
आपका ट्विट अभी हमारे काशी के चाचाजी को सुनाया, तपाक से बोले, मुलायम ने बंद करवाया था। pic.twitter.com/hNPDFYFZE1— युगल किशोर 🇮🇳 (@DhootYk) May 12, 2022
Meanwhile, the BJP spokesperson, speaking at a TV debate claimed that earlier, puja was performed in the Mata Shringar Gauri Sthal round the year. Mulayam Singh Yadav, who was then the CM of Uttar Pradesh, ordered to halt regular puja performed at the Maa Shringar Gauri Temple which was in violation of the Worship Act 1991.
Shukla accused Mulayam Singh Yadav of Muslim appeasement, stating that his government banned worship at Mata Shringar Gauri in 2004 due to their vote bank politics. He added that prayer in this temple had even continued after the Babri building was demolished in 1992.
He said, “Tell me the name of a mosque anywhere in the world except India that has an idol, a conch, a wheel, or a temple. Religion is important to you. According to Islam, a mosque cannot be built on a site that is disputed by any other religion. History is a testimony to the fact that a temple was demolished at this site and the mosque was built on its ruins.”
The history of Gyanvapi in Varanasi
The Gyanvapi Mosque complex is a disputed structure built over the ruins of the desecrated old Kashi Vishwanath Temple by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb after it was desecrated multiple times by Islamic monarchs such as Qutb al-Din Aibak and Aurangzeb.
To this day, parts of this ancient temple are clearly visible on the outer walls of the mosque. Even from afar, the statues of the bull Nandi and Maa Shringaar Gauri can be seen.
The Kashi Vishwanath Temple complex, which is adjacent to the disputed mosque complex and where devotees can do puja and prayers, was built by Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore in 1780.
However, the puja at Maa Shringar Gauri Temple, on the western side of the disputed Gyanvapi Mosque was restricted. The ongoing case is related to a plea regarding the removal of this very restriction.
Why the survey?
On April 18, 2021, Rakhi Singh, Sita Sahu, Manju Vyas, Rekha Pathak, and Laxmi Devi submitted a petition asking for permission to worship and perform rituals in honour of the deities Ganesh, Hanuman, and Nandi, that are located on the disputed structure’s outside facade. The Delhi-based women’s petition also sought to prohibit the opposing parties from harming the idols.
On April 26, Ravi Kumar Diwakar, Civil Judge (Senior Division) of Varanasi ordered that a survey and videography of the site should be conducted after Eid and before May 10.
Accordingly, May 6 and 7 were designated as the dates for conducting the survey and videography by the court’s commissioner and team.
Amidst heavy police presence, the team conducted the survey in areas outside and surrounding the Gyanvapi structure on Friday (6 May). When on May 7, the team, attempted to enter the Gyanvapi complex to conduct an internal survey and videography of the structure, members of the Muslim community created a ruckus. They stood at the door and prevented them from entering.
Notably, after stopping the court-directed documentation for the day in Varanasi, a videographer who accompanied the survey team involved in the process had revealed the presence of Hindu motifs including the Swastika, Nandi (bull associated with Shiva) and lotus motifs all over the outer side of the mosque walls.
Gyanvapi verdict: Court allows videography survey of premises, orders opening of basement
Meanwhile, days after members of the Muslim community impeded the survey, a Varanasi court on May 12 allowed a videographic survey of the disputed structure known as ‘Gyanvapi Masjid’. Varanasi’s Civil Judge (Senior Division) Ravi Kumar Diwakar issued guidelines for the same and added that the survey will now be held and a report to be submitted by May 17. As per the report, it is also reported that the basement of the disputed structure has also been directed to be opened.