Puja Begins In The Basement Of Gyanvapi Mosque As Ordered By Court

Puja Begins In The Basement Of Gyanvapi Mosque As Ordered By Court

Varanasi, February 1 (TNA) Members of a Hindu priests' family started praying in the basement of Varanasi's Gyanvapi mosque after a district court on Wednesday ordered the administration to unseal the premises, 30 years after it was sealed on the orders of former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, shortly after the Babri Masjid demolition.

"Hindu side allowed to offer prayers... district administration will have to make arrangements in seven days. Everyone will have the right to pray there," Vishnu Shankar Jain, lawyer for the Hindu side, told the media. The area near the mosque, located right next to Kashi Vishwanath temple, witnessed frenetic activity late last night as Hindu devotees started reaching the mosque to pray in the cellar, named 'Vyas ka tehkana'.

Members of a Hindu outfit, Rashtriya Hindu Dal, were seen pasting the 'mandir' (temple) word on a signage near the mosque. The puja started around 3 am today. Heavy force has been deployed to prevent any untoward incident. The mosque has four cellars in its basement. One of them was in the possession of a family of priests that used to live there. Somnath Vyas, a member of Vyas family, offered prayers in the cellar before it was sealed in 1993, according to the petition by Shailendra Pathak, the petitioner and a member of the family.

The mosque committee has said they would be challenging the court's order in Allahabad High Court. "This is happening to get political advantage. The same approach is being adopted, which was done in the Babri Masjid case," their counsel Merajuddin Siddiqui said.

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