VARANASI (UP), Aug 4 (PTI): The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Friday resumed its scientific survey of the Gyanvapi premises here to determine whether the 17th-century mosque was constructed over a pre-existing structure of a Hindu temple.
The Allahabad High Court had on Thursday allowed the ASI to conduct the survey.
The survey, which was boycotted by members of the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid committee, began at 7 am, ASI sources said.
In view of Friday prayers, the survey has been halted for two hours between 12 pm and 2 pm.
Subhash Chaturvedi, a lawyer of the Hindu side who is inside the complex along with the ASI team for the survey, said, “The ASI team began the survey work at 7 am and stopped it at 12 pm for two hours in view of the Friday prayers. The survey work will resume again after 2 pm.”
Additional security personnel have been deployed by the district authorities to ensure law and order near the complex.
Representatives of the Hindu petitioners in the legal dispute involving the mosque, were present inside the complex during the survey.
However, representatives of the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid committee, who were to accompany the ASI team for the survey, kept away.
The Hindu side’s lawyer Madan Mohan Yadav told PTI that a 43-member ASI team is conducting the survey work.
Yadav said the survey work is likely to continue for five-six days.
He added that during this period the plaintiffs of the case Laxmi Singh, Sita Sahu, Rekha Pathak and Manju Vyas along with their lawyers will be present on the spot along with the ASI team.
Rakhi Singh, another litigant in the case, was not present on Friday for the survey. However, her counsel was present.
Syed Mohammad Yasin, secretary of the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, told PTI that the lawyers of the Muslim side did not participate in the survey as the decision to conduct the survey has already been challenged in the Supreme Court.
“The High Court has ordered the ASI to conduct a scientific survey of the Gyanvapi without any demolition. The Anjuman Intazamiya Masjid had appealed against this order in the Supreme Court on Thursday itself, which is to be heard on Friday. We have informed the senior officials in Varanasi about this,” he said.
“Our request was that the survey should be postponed till the order of the apex court. Our advocate from Delhi had also sent a letter to the same effect to the officials here, but after not getting a response, the committee met on Thursday night and decided to abstain from this survey,” he added.
The survey began after the Allahabad High Court upheld a Varanasi district court order and ruled that the proposed step is “necessary in the interest of justice” and will benefit both sides.
The order came after the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid committee, representing the Muslim side to the legal dispute, moved the Supreme Court against the Varanasi district court order.
The mosque stands next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple.