A lawyer's claim about a ‘Shivling’ being found in the wuzu khana (ablution pond) of the Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi complex during the ongoing court-ordered survey of the premises prompted the civil judge hearing the case to direct the administration to immediately seal and secure the area. The keys to the sealed zone were handed to the treasury soon after.
The controversial turn in the case involving five women petitioners seeking the right to unhindered daily worship of Goddess Shringar Gauri and other deities along the outer wall of the complex came a day ahead of the scheduled submission of the videography survey report to the court of civil judge (senior division) Ravi Kumar Diwakar.
SM Yasin, joint secretary of the Anjuman Intejamia Masajid (AIM), which is one of the respondents in the case, accused plaintiff Rakhi Singh's lawyer Harishankar Jain of passing off a portion of a fountain within the pond as a Shivling. Terming the purported Shivling “a very important piece of evidence in the case”, Jain had pleaded with the court to get the area sealed “for its safety”. He also demanded a ban on the entry of Muslims into the complex, besides restricting the number of people offering namaz at the mosque to 20 at a time.
Moments before Jain approached the court, the petitioners and their lawyers had stepped out of the Gyanvapi complex with a sense of jubilation. “Baba mil gaye. Jin khoja tin paiya gahre pani paith… Isharo me puri baat samajh lijiye (We found Shiva. We found what we were searching for. Try to understand what I want to say in gestures),” said Dr Sohanlal Arya, one of the lawyers.
His colleagues representing the other petitioners said it was a "historic day" as the "evidence" collected by the court-appointed commission would determine all Gyanvapi-related cases pending in various courts. The claim coincided with the Allahabad high court adjourning the hearing in one of these cases till May 20. Civil judge Diwakar said the chief secretary and the DGP of UP would be responsible for overseeing the process of sealing the disputed zone and ensuring that the court's order was adhered to by the district magistrate, the police commissioner and the CRPF commandant. He said it would be the trio's personal responsibility to secure that area. DM Kaushal Raj Sharma said the administration was making alternative arrangements to ensure that the Muslim faithful didn't face any problem on reaching the mosque for namaz.