Gyanvapi carbon dating

Gyanpavi: HC Seeks ASI Affidavit On Conducting Carbon Dating Of Shivling

Allahabad High Court on Monday asked the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) to file an affidavit on whether the ‘carbon dating of the purported ‘Shivling’ found inside the premises of the Gyanvapi Mosque, can be conducted without defacing its shape.

The High Court directed the ASI to file its affidavit on the next date of hearing — November 30.
The HC was hearing a review petition filed by Lakshmi Devi and three others, challenging the Varanasi district court’s order of a ‘scientific survey’ of the purported Shivling, which is claimed to be a part of the fountain of the wazu khana by the mosque management.

In its order on Monday, the single bench of Justice JJ Muneer asked the ASI to confirm if ‘carbon dating’, a method to determine an object’s age, can be conducted without defacing the purported Shivling.

“The subordinate court has rejected the application for conducting a scientific survey in view of the status quo order issued by the Supreme Court. Apprehension has been expressed that carbon dating may damage the alleged Shivling,” the bench stated, adding that it was necessary to determine the age of the ‘Shivling’ without deforming its shape.

The counsel for the petitioners, Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain, said only a scientific survey (carbon dating) can bring forth correct information on the ‘Shivling’ found in the Gyanvapi mosque complex, along with other religious items.

It will also establish beyond any reasonable doubt how old the ‘Shivling’ and other idols found there are, the counsel for the petition further submitted.

Earlier, the petitioners had filed an application in the district court, Varanasi seeking a scientific survey of the Gyanvapi Masjid complex.

The court, however, rejected the plea on October 14 saying that doing so could damage the structure.

The single-bench of the Allahabad HC on Monday also directed the principal secretary of the Department of Religious Affairs, Uttar Pradesh, to file an affidavit on the government’s position or stand in the matter on the next date of hearing — November 30.

The chief standing counsel of the state government, Pancham Bipin Bihari Pandey, was directed to clarify the government’s stand by filing an affidavit on behalf of the principal secretary, Department of Religious Affairs, UP.

Advocate Manoj Singh, appearing for the Union government, had sought three months’ time to clarify its position on the matter. However, the court directed that an affidavit is to be filed by November 30. (ANI)

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Shivling gyanvapi case

Hearing Of Plea Seeking Worship Of Shivling In Gyanvapi Premises Adjourned To Nov 14

A fast-track court in Varanasi on Tuesday adjourned the matter for November 14 on the plea seeking worship of the ‘Shivling’ that the Hindu side claimed to be found on the Gyanvapi mosque premises.

The matter was adjourned for November 14 as the concerned judge would not sit in the Fast Track court today.
The Court was supposed to deliver its verdict on the three main demands by the plaintiff which include the permission for the immediate beginning of prayer of Swayambhu Jyotirlinga Bhagwan Vishweshwar, the handing over of the entire Gyanvapi complex to the Hindus, and banning the entry of Muslims inside the premises of the Gyanvapi complex.

It is to be noted that the Muslim side is allowed to offer prayers at present.

During the previous hearing that took place in October, the Varanasi court had refused to allow a ‘scientific investigation’ of the purported ‘Shivling’.

The Hindu side had demanded carbon dating of the structure they claimed to be a Shivling found inside the Gyanvapi Mosque’s wazukhana.

However, the Muslim side said that the structure found was a ‘fountain’. The Hindu side had then submitted an application in the Varanasi District Court on September 22 that sought a carbon dating of the object they claimed to be ‘Shivling’.

The Hindu side said that they would approach the Supreme Court against the Varanasi court’s verdict refusing to allow a ‘scientific investigation’ of the purported ‘Shivling’, claiming to be found on the Gyanvapi mosque premises.

On September 29 hearing, the Hindu side had demanded a scientific investigation of the ‘Shivling’ by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the carbon dating of ‘Argha’ and the area around it.

The Varanasi court said, “It would not be proper to order the survey of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and by giving such order the age, nature, and structure of the said Shivling is known, even this does not imply the possibility of a just solution”.

Advocate Vishnu Jain, representing the side in the Gyanvapi case, “Court has rejected our demand of seeking carbon dating. We’ll move to Supreme Court against this order and challenge it there. I cannot announce the date as of now, but we’ll soon challenge this order in Supreme Court.”

Another lawyer of the Hindu side Madan Mohan Yadav said, “Though the court has rejected the demand of seeking carbon dating, the option of going to the High Court is available and the Hindu side will place their point before the High Court as well.”

Referring to the order of May 17 of the Supreme Court, the Varanasi Court had said that “If the alleged Shivling is damaged by taking samples, then it will be in violation of the order of the Supreme Court”.

“If the Shivling is damaged, the religious sentiments of the general public can also get hurt”, the Varanasi Court had said.

Carbon dating is a scientific process that ascertains the age of an archaeological object or archaeological finds.

After hearing both sides’ arguments, the court had reserved the order in the Gyanvapi Mosque-Shringar Gauri case.

On May 20, the Supreme Court had ordered the transfer of the case related to worship at Gyanvapi mosque from the civil judge to the District Judge, Varanasi.

Akhlaq Ahmed, representing the Muslim side had said that the plea by the Hindu side is not maintainable as it is against the order of the Supreme Court that stated protecting the structure (which the Muslim side claims to be a fountain and the Hindu side claims to be a Shivling).

“We responded to the application on carbon dating. Stone does not have the capacity to absorb carbon. The Supreme Court in its May 17 order, according to which, the object that the commission found, had to be protected. The order of the SC will prevail, so the object cannot be opened. According to the Hindu side, the process will be scientific, even if it is so, there will be tampering with the object. Chemicals will be used for the test. We will take action based on the order by the court on October 14,” Ahmed had told ANI.

Another lawyer representing the Muslim side, Tohid Khan had said, “The court will deliver its verdict on whether the application seeking carbon dating is acceptable or should be rejected. The structure is a fountain and not Shivling. The fountain can still be made operational.” (ANI)

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Advocate in Gyanvapi case

Court Must Settle Gyanvapi Dispute Once And For All

Sudhir Tripathi, the advocate representing the women plaintiffs in the Gyanvapi Mosque case, responds to the views of Mufti-e-Shahar, Banaras, Maulana Abdul Nomani

Gyanvapi mosque case is a long running dispute. There have been claims and counterclaims about the structure between Hindus and Muslims. However, there is no dispute among historians that it was built on the site where a temple existed. Currently, at the centre of the controversy is the videography survey which showed a stone structure, which Hindus say is a Shivling and Muslims say is a fountain.

A law of court works on the principle of viable evidences, backed by science. Therefore, our stand is that a carbon-dating of the stone structure be done to establish its age. This is a simple solution. If the structure is a fountain then why are the defendants uncomfortable with its carbon dating?

TheMufti-e-Shahar, Banaras Maulana Abdul Batin Nomani has commented on your website that he has complete faith in judiciary. But he has been contradicting his own stand from day one. First, he claimed that the case is not maintainable and is bound to be dismissed but later he said he will challenge the order of the Varanasi district court in the Allahabad High Court.

It is clear why he is in a dilemma. On one hand, he is calling upon the ‘people of Benaras’ (read Muslims) to abide by the law but one the other hand he says the final verdict will be in the court of the Almighty.

ALSO READ: ‘People Want Political Mileage From Gyanvapi Case’

The Hindu petitioners have demanded for Pooja (prayers), Darshan (sighting), and Sanrakshan (protection) of the Shivling and to substantiate our claims they are ready for a carbon dating of the structure. If it’s a fountain, I plead the defendants to please come up with proofs like its water inlet, design, etc. Let us use scientific methods to verify our claims. There are numerous pieces of evidence like the holy Trishul (trident) or mantras and shlokas inscribed on the walls, which clearly back our demand.

The last prayers were offered in 1991 and since then our deity is locked behind the doors and a huge battery of security personnel has been put on guard. A videography survey has been conducted earlier this year and we are quite confident of its outcome.

The devotees only want to offer prayers to Shringar Gauri which stands on the compound of the disputed Gyanvapi complex as they used to until 1991 and for that, we are moving in the right direction.

If the excesses of the past can be rectified in a harmonious, lawful manner, it will only go to strengthen the communal amity in Benaras. Our history books clearly state that the Gyanvapi Mosque complex was built over the ruins of the desecrated old Shiva Temple by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. There is disagreement over the reason for destruction of the temple but not about the act.

Even today, parts of this ancient temple are clearly visible on the outer walls of the mosque. From afar, the statues of the bull Nandi and Maa Shringar Gauri can be seen. We don’t want to get involved in any kind of petty disputes as the issue is been unnecessarily politicized for decades and curtains should fall on it once and for all.

As told to Rajat Rai

Gyanvapi Mosque Issue

‘Some People Want Political Mileage from Gyanvapi Issue’

Maulana Abdul Batin Nomani, Mufti-e-Shahar, Banaras & general secretary, Anjuman Intezamia Masajid, says he has complete faith in Indian judicial system. His views:

The Gyanvapi mosque issue was essentially a religious one. It has been deliberately turned into a political issue through a litany of court cases dating back to 1991. Speaking about the recent order by the Varanasi District Judge, Anjuman Intezamia Masajid had staked claim that the present suit is not maintainable on account of the Places of Worship Act, 1991, and that when a certain law holds the field, the suit is bound to be dismissed.

However, Varanasi district court’s recent acceptance of the suit filed by five Hindu women seeking permission to pray at Gyanvapi Masjid complex not only violated the Places of Worship Act 1991 but has also reopened what the Supreme Court’s 2019 Ayodhya verdict was supposed to have closed forever—a debate on the religious character of places of worship.

AIM Varanasi, as a party to the case, is of the view that it will abide by the judiciary, whatever be the verdict. We have full faith in the judicial processes. Already a dozen litigations are pending in the courts over Gyanvapi mosque. We do not know what will be the due course in this matter but we will certainly challenge the order of Varanasi District Court in Allahabad High Court.

This recent legal dispute is a result of the survey of the Gyanvapi premises ordered by Varanasi court on petitions seeking all-year-long access to pray at a Hindu shrine Shringar Gauri located behind the western wall of the Gyanvapi Mosque complex (which is currently opened for prayers once a year). AIM had then sought leave of the Supreme Court that its application under Order 7 Rule 11 should be heard first by the Civil Judge.

ALSO READ: ‘Varanasi is An Icon Of Harmony, Don’t Destroy It’

Supreme Court, on 20 May 2022, ordered that the application filed by the Committee of AIM Management shall be decided on priority by the District Judge. So the question reverted back to the District Judge, Varanasi on whether the Gyanvapi mosque does conceal in its premises a “Shivling”.

Here, the things went wrong. We still have older generation who is witness to the fountain inside the mosque premises, which is being claimed as Shivling. Themedia played its part in politicising the issue and creating a fake debate. The original petition asking for the worship of Shringar Gauri got deflected and the whole debate moved in the wrong direction. Now we are in a legal quagmire.

Meanwhile, disturbing statements have been made by a few elements like Haji Mahboob, the petitioner in Babri Masjid case. I would like to appeal to all citizens not to pay heed to these divisive statements. Muslims of Benares should abide by the court of law.

At the same time, it is unfortunate that some people are raising questions on the judiciary itself. Judiciary is the supreme among the four pillars of our democracy. Any question on the judiciary is an indication that something is fundamentally flawed. We need to rectify it and restore the faith of people in the judiciary.

Whatever be the end result, I have been repeatedly asking Muslims of Benares to sit calm and accept the judicial verdict because the final verdict comes in the court of the Almighty. But we as responsible citizens of this country must maintain peace and abide by the constitutional values at any cost.

As told to Abhishek Srivastava

‘No Communal Discord in Kashi, But Truth Must Come Out’

Dinesh Dubey, a mahant in Varanasi, says pushing the truth in the Gyanvapi mosque case under the carpet may have adverse impact in the long run

I have been serving Ma Ganga since childhood on the Ghats of Varanasi and also the devotees who come to pray at the temples of this sacred Hindu city. Kashi residents are spiritual and charitable. And you cannot find even the slightest discrimination or ill-will among Hindus and Muslims here.

As far as the Gyanvapi mosque issue is there, even a young child here knows that it is a 350 year old structure built after razing down parts of the Vishweshwar temple devoted to Lord Shiva. But this has not spoiled the togetherness of its people. It was only recently that a survey by archaeologists was conducted in the mosque and we hear that some Hindu relics and a Shivling have been discovered there.

The matter is subjudice, so it is not upon me to tell you what to do. But the common sense says that if an object of value is found somewhere, it must be returned to its rightful owner. Therefore, if Hindu relics are found in a mosque, these should be given to Hindus. Where is the role of Court-Kachehari in this?

Many Hindu holy structures were brought down in our chequered history. Now, if there is archaeological evidence that a structure belongs to Hindus, there is no harm in reclaiming it. This happened in Ayodhya, although at the intervention of Supreme Court.

ALSO READ: Varanasi An Icon Of Harmony, Don’t Destroy Over A Shivling

Hindus and Muslims of Varanasi are tolerant and peace-loving people. However, of late a misconception is being spread that something unpleasant is going to happen in Varanasi. The media also has a major role in spoiling the harmony. Special episodes are being run on TV channels that have created an atmosphere of fear.

If you try to hide the truth, it will naturally give grist to the rumour mill. That is why I feel allow the truth about religious relics found in the mosque be brought into public domain. Brushing the truth under the carpet will only create distrust among the Kashi residents.

About 600 meters of the Gyanvapi mosque site, which has other temples also, has been cordoned off. This barricading has affected the footfalls of visitors in Varanasi. Devotees from south India usually throng Kashi in summer months every year. However, the numbers have gone down visibly. People are asking among each other anxiously when things will be ‘normal’.

We, locals, do not want any kind of dispute. We have been living in harmony for centuries and pray to Lord Siva. Let truth prevail and let everyone live a peaceful life and witness the development of Bharatvarsha!

As told to Rajat Rai

‘Varanasi An Icon Of Harmony, Don’t Destroy It Over A Shivling’

Suresh K Nair, an Asst Professor at Banaras Hindu University, tells LokMarg that Gyanvapi Mosque controversy is a non-issue raked up by vested interests

Ever since I have been teaching in this great city of Varanasi, I have found that this is indeed a peaceful and beautiful place. People are living here in great harmony and across all caste and communities. You can feel the harmony and vibrations on the streets and gullies of this ancient city where so many currents have passed by, leaving their mark.

I believe that all religions are meant to promote peace, humanism and harmony. And Varanasi is an epitome of this universal spiritual principle. This Gyanvapi Mosque controversy which certain vested interests have yet again raked up for reasons which are too brazenly transparent, is a non-issue – period.

Varanasi transcends these petty non-issues with its great history of secular pluralism and aesthetic ethos. People here are essentially broad-minded. The harmony that seems to be missing now, is a jarring. No government before this has promoted this kind of social disharmony – no government.

Nair (inset) calls Varanasi an Open Museum of pluralism and heritage

In the first instance, the government must not engage in any religious activity whatsoever. If it does so, then it should fund and restore the architectural and artistic heritage across the religious kaleidoscope – it can be a temple, a mosque or a monastery. If the government supports temples, then it should support masjids and churches too. Why only promote and protect Hindu temples?

ALSO READ: ‘Religious Gurus Must Foster Harmony, Not Discord’

Varanasi is an Open Museum. It is a real art gallery of global importance with its magical, archival memories, narratives, folk and oral traditions, art and architecture, music, poetry, literature and song.  And why only its temples and mosques, its lanes, by-lanes, ghats and public spaces, they are all precious heritage sites, and they should all be preserved.

Now, if they are fiddling with the lanes, by-lanes and the geographical inheritance of this wonderful city, then it is ethically wrong – you just cannot and should not tamper with the original template of the city which has evolved over the centuries. The gullies and ghats are the original geographical zones of inherited cultural harmony and artistic traditions. It is outright wrong to play with this established essence.

Back home in Kerala, I once did a project on a Namboodiri Brahmin who was so progressive that he backed the Muslims. The British did not like it. And, yet, he continued this progressive tradition. Religions should stand for peace.

In any case, human lives are ephemeral. All governments are ephemeral. The power too is ephemeral. Even the great Ganga changes its routes and finds new geographies. As a creative and visual artist, and as a teacher, I firmly believe that rigidity will just not work. In this city of Bismillah Khan’s brilliance, let the incredible and magical harmony of cultural brilliance prevail. The river teaches us exactly that.

As told to Amit Sengupta