The report of the filming of Varanasi's Gyanvapi Masjid was submitted in court today in a case involving Hindu petitioners requesting access to worship what they claim are idols of Hindu gods and goddesses inside the mosque complex.
A copy of the report, submitted in a sealed envelope, was shared by the lawyers of the petitioners hours later and it appears to back their claims of the presence of Hindu idols and symbols inside the Gyanvapi mosque. NDTV cannot independently verify the details.
The report shared by the petitioners says symbols of a "Trishul" or trident, lotus engravings and ancient Hindi carvings have been found in the video survey of the mosque complex that is right next to the iconic Kashi-Vishwanath temple.
Claims of a "Shivling" had already been made public earlier and the official who led the survey was sacked because of the leak, allegedly by a "personal cameraman" hired by him.
Here are some apparent findings of the report:
- The pillars in the basement of the mosque have engravings of flowers and a 'kalash' (pitcher).
- Carvings in "ancient Hindi language" have been found on a pillar in the basement.
- The symbol of a "Trishul" has been found on a wall of the basement.
- The team found two large pillars and an arch protruding from the western wall of mosque. The petitioners call them remnants of temples, but the mosque committee opposes that claim.
- A conical structure has been found below the central dome of mosque.
- A stone below the third dome of the mosque has lotus engravings.
- A round structure of 2.5 feet height has been noticed in the pond in the mosque complex used for "Wazoo" (purification ritual before namaaz). Petitioners call it a "Shivling" but the mosque committee says it was a fountain.
While there has been no official reaction from the Gyanvapi mosque committee, sources called it "surprising" that a sensitive report was shared even before the court could see it or give an opinion. None of this, the sources say, answers the question -- whether the video survey violates the law, specifically the Places of Worship Act of 1991, which maintains the religious status of any place of worship as it was on August 15, 1947.
The mosque committee has challenged the filming inside the Gyanvapi complex citing the law. The committee today also submitted an affidavit in court opposing any demolition inside the mosque, which is part of a fresh request by the original petitioners.
The report was submitted in three sealed boxes and a chip with hundreds of video clips and photographs.
The Varanasi court will hear the case next on Monday, after the Supreme Court, which takes up tomorrow an appeal against filming in the mosque. Earlier today, the Supreme Court had asked the Varanasi court not to proceed further in the case until tomorrow evening.