Gyanvapi mosque row: A Muslim organisation in Varanasi is urging business owners to close on Friday in protest

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The Muslim community has been urged by the Anjuman Intezamia Masajid Committee, which oversees the Gyanvapi mosque complex, to keep their businesses closed on Friday in opposition to pooja that was conducted in the mosque’s southern subterranean one day after a district court approved it.

Every Friday, a sizable crowd congregates in the Gyanvapi mosque complex to offer namaz.

According to Pragya Pathak, Assistant Police Commissioner of the Dasheshmegh district, as a precaution, security has been increased in the city given Friday namaz, with the police force performing flag marches in critical places.

In response to a district court decision, prayers were held earlier in the day on Wednesday night in the cellar of the Gyanvapi Masjid in Varanasi. This happened just hours before the mosque committee filed applications for a stay of that order with the Allahabad High Court and the Supreme Court.

The management committee of the Gyanvapi mosque filed a petition with the Supreme Court on Thursday, asking for an expedited hearing and contesting the district court’s ruling. But later in the day, the committee moved the Allahabad High Court at the supreme court’s request.

On Wednesday afternoon, the lower court decided that a priest is permitted to offer prayers in front of the idols in the Gyanvapi Masjid’s southern cellar, which is close to the Kashi Vishwanath temple.

Hindu claimants contend that during the reign of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, an old temple was demolished to make room for a mosque. This has also been suggested by an Archaeological Survey of India survey.

Following the Wednesday night prayers, Nagendra Pandey, president of the Kashi Vishwanath temple trust, told PTI that “Vyas ji’s cellar was opened after 31 years for prayers.” Around 10.30 p.m., he added, the cellar was opened.

“It was necessary to follow the court’s orders, so the district administration made all arrangements with great promptness,” Pandey stated. According to reports, a ‘aarti’ featuring Lord Ganesh and Goddess Lakshmi was conducted following the cellar’s cleansing. With agency inputs. 

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