A major breakthrough has been achieved in the long-pending Kashi-Vishwanath Temple dispute when the Varanasi district court has allowed an archaeological survey of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple-Gyanvapi mosque complex.
This order came on a petition was filed by a local lawyer VS Rastogi who had demanded the restoration of the land entailing Gyanvapi Mosque to Hindus claiming that Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1664 pulled down a portion of 2000-year-old Kashi Vishwanath Temple to build the Gyanvyapi Mosque there.
This petition was vehemently opposed by the Gyanvyapi Mosque management committee, but their efforts went in vain when the court allowed for the ASI survey of the mosque. The cost of this survey will be borne by the Government.
The Kashi Vishwanath temple at Varanasi is known as one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, which was first destroyed by the army of Qutb-Ud-din Aibak, in 1194 CE. In 1669 CE, Mughal emperor Aurangzeb again destroyed the temple and built the Gyanvapi Mosque in its place. The remains of the erstwhile temple can be seen at the foundation, the columns, and at the rear part of the mosque.
In the Kashi Vishwanath Temple-Gyanvapi mosque complex petition, the petitioner had contended that the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act was not applicable on the suit as the mosque was constructed over a partly demolished temple and many parts of the temple exist even today.
In 1998, Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee moved the high court contending that the mandir-masjid dispute could not be adjudicated by a civil court as it was barred by the law.
The high court stayed the proceedings in the lower court which had continued for the past 22 years.