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ASI Seeks Eight More Weeks To Complete Gyanvapi Mosque Survey

VARANASI: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has filed an application in a Varanasi court, seeking eight more weeks’ time for submitting its report of the Gyanvapi mosque survey as the deadline for it ended on September 2 even as the survey is still going on. The ASI is conducting a survey in the barricaded area of the Gyanvapi mosque premises, excluding its sealed section, since August 4.

On behalf of ASI, standing government counsel, Government of India, Amit Kumar Srivastava, filed the application. Srivastava said, “We prayed to the court to grant further eight weeks’ time to ASI for submitting report of the survey of Gyanvapi mosque because the exercise is still going on.”

“Our application was put up before the court of additional district judge (first). The application was listed. The additional district judge (first) directed to put the matter before the district judge for hearing,” Srivastava added.

He also said that the court did not fix any date for hearing the matter. Subhash Nandan Chaturvedi, counsel for plaintiff numbers 2 to 5 in the Shringar Gauri-Gyanvapi matter, said, “The survey is still going on. Therefore, the ASI has sought more time for completing the survey and submitting the report.”

Mumtaz Ahmad, the counsel for Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee (AIMC) that manages the Gyanvapi mosque, said, “We will file an objection against it.” In compliance with an order of the court of the Varanasi district judge, the ASI is conducting scientific investigation/survey at the Gyanvapi mosque.

A team of archaeologists, archaeological chemists, epigraphists, surveyors and other experts are engaged in scientific investigations and documentation, the ASI’s application said. It also noted that the work related to the survey involves slow process and will require some more time.

On August 5, the court of the Varanasi district judge granted an additional four weeks to ASI to submit a report on the Gyanvapi mosque’s scientific survey that resumed amid tight security on August 4 after the Allahabad High Court on August 3 vacated a stay and gave the go-ahead for the exercise. The Varanasi court ordered the ASI to submit report up to September 2.

The Varanasi court had ordered the survey on July 21 and initially asked for submission of the report by August 4. In compliance with that order, the ASI had conducted the survey for more than four-and-a-half hours on July 24 after which the Supreme Court the same day (July 24) halted the exercise till 5 p.m on July 26 and granted liberty to the AIMC, which manages the Gyanvapi mosque, to approach the Allahabad High Court.

When the mosque committee moved the high court on July 25, it extended the stay on the survey. The high court gave its ruling on August 3 and allowed the exercise to go ahead. AIMC moved the Supreme Court against the high court order but the top court refused to stay the survey on August 4.

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