The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) initiated its survey of the Gyanvapi Mosque, even as the mosque’s representatives approached the Supreme Court.

Following the Allahabad High Court’s decision on Thursday, August 3, which paved the way for a comprehensive scientific survey of Varanasi’s Gyanvapi Masjid to ascertain any potential existence of a pre-existing temple structure, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has initiated the survey early on the morning of Friday, August 4.

Concurrently, the committee responsible for the mosque’s maintenance has taken its concerns to the Supreme Court, contesting the verdict issued by the high court. The mosque’s representatives sought a prompt decision from the Supreme Court before ASI began its work on the site.

In a letter directed to the Varanasi District Magistrate and Varanasi Police Commissioner, Alok Tripathi, the Additional Director General of ASI, communicated the agency’s intention to resume archaeological survey and scientific investigation on August 4, complying with the high court’s directives. The letter also entreated the Varanasi administration to facilitate access to the site and ensure adequate security for the survey team.

The Allahabad High Court’s Chief Justice, Pritinker Diwaker, on August 3, upheld the Varanasi district judge’s order for ASI to conduct a scientific survey, rejecting the Gyanvapi mosque committee’s petition. Diwaker emphasized the necessity of the scientific investigation for the pursuit of justice and balanced decision-making.

However, the verdict disappointed Sayid Yasin, the joint secretary of the Anjuman Intejamia Masajid, the mosque’s caretaker, who expressed regret over the perceived disregard for the Places of Worship Act, 1991.

The high court’s decision upheld the district judge’s directive for ASI to conduct a comprehensive scientific investigation using various modern techniques to determine whether the mosque was constructed over a pre-existing Hindu temple. Notably, the ASI affirmed that its survey methods would be non-destructive, conducted without harm to the existing structures.

While Vishnu Shankar Jain, a lawyer representing the Hindu petitioners, welcomed the survey, Farman S. Naqvi, a senior lawyer for the Gyanvapi Masjid committee, remained skeptical about potential structural damage and questioned the lack of precedent or clear assurances regarding preservation methods.

Justice Diwaker, however, found the mosque committee’s concerns unsubstantiated, noting that the ASI had committed to non-invasive methods during the investigation.

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