Gyanvapi Cellar Verdict Was Varanasi Judge’s Last Before Retirement

Gyanvapi Cellar Verdict Was Varanasi Judge's Last Before Retirement

The Gyanvapi cellar was unsealed after the verdict and prayers held at 3 am today


The judgment allowing Hindu prayers in a cellar at Varanasi’s Gyanvapi Mosque was the final verdict of a judge’s career. Yesterday was the last working day for Dr Ajaya Krishna Vishvesha, Varanasi district and sessions judge, before his retirement.

Born in 1964 in Haridwar, now in Uttarakhand, Dr Vishvesha holds a Bachelor’s degree in science and a Master’s in law. He joined the judicial service in 1990. He has earlier served as district and sessions judge in Bulandshahr and in several judicial posts across Uttar Pradesh.

In a judgment that is being considered a key development in the Gyanvapi legal battle, the Varanasi court allowed members of a family of Hindu priests’ to hold prayers in a cellar inside the Gyanvapi complex that was sealed for over 30 years. The 17th century mosque has four cellars. The cellar where puja has been allowed is called ‘Vyas ji ka Tehkhana’.

The petitioner, Shailendra Pathak Vyas, has said his family has worshipped idols in the cellar for generations. The petitioner also said that his maternal grandfather, Somnath Vyas, regularly worshipped the idols till 1993 when the Mulayam Singh Yadav sealed the premises. The Mulayam Singh Yadav government had sealed the premises, including the cellar, citing law and order concerns in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition. During the hearing, the Muslim side had said the petitioner had not placed any evidence that prayers were held in the cellar and claimed there is no idol there. They have now said that they would challenge the district court judgment in Allahabad High Court.

Hours after yesterday’s judgment, the district administration unsealed the premises and a puja was held there around 3 am today.

Jitendra Nath Vyas, a member of the Vyas family, told news agency ANI that five priests of Kashi Vishwanath temple, their family members and top district officials were present during the puja. Heavy force has been deployed near the mosque to prevent any flare-up.

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