Central Varanasi Court Grants ASI Additional Time for Survey

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A Varanasi court has granted the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) an additional four weeks to complete and submit a report as ordered by the court. The District and Sessions Judge AK Vishvesha issued the order while rejecting a petition from the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, the mosque caretaker, opposing the ASI’s request for an extension.

On July 21, the court had instructed a scientific survey of the complex to determine whether the mosque was built over a pre-existing Hindu temple structure. The ASI was given four weeks to complete the survey, excluding the wuzukhana area sealed by the Supreme Court. The deadline for the survey was September 2.

The committee filed an objection on September 4, alleging that the ASI was disobeying higher court orders and endangering the mosque building by excavating soil beneath the ground without authorization. The ASI responded by stating that they were following orders from the Allahabad High Court and the Supreme Court, and precautions were being taken to prevent any damage to the structure.

The government counsel representing the ASI, Amit Srivastava, confirmed that the next hearing is scheduled for October 6. The court also directed the ASI to comply with the orders of the Allahabad High Court and Supreme Court during the survey.

The court set September 13 for the resolution of other petitions related to the matter. The committee prevented the ASI from entering the mosque complex on Thursday to continue the survey, citing the expired deadline. The ASI requested more time for the survey, stating that they were conducting a scientific investigation with a team of experts engaged in various aspects of the survey.

The ASI reported finding debris in the cellars of the mosque, obstructing the original structure features. The agency assured that the debris removal process was being carried out carefully to avoid damage to the structure. The survey was temporarily halted due to legal challenges but resumed on August 4 under tight security.

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