A group of Hindus, led by Varanasi District Magistrate S Rajalingam, prayed inside the Gyanvapi mosque complex on Wednesday night, hours after a district court passed a direction allowing them to do so.
On Wednesday evening, Rajalingam along with other government officials, entered the mosque complex and spent nearly two hours inside the complex.
The Varanasi court allowed Hindus to offer prayers in the sealed basement of the mosque complex after an Archaeological Survey of India report claimed that a Hindu temple that existed at the site was destroyed in the 17th Century and built over.
The court ordered that the arrangements for Hindu prayers, including the removal of barricades, be completed within a week. The prayers should be conducted by priests of the neighbouring Kashi Vishwanath temple, the court ordered.
“Compliance with the court order was ensured on Wednesday night when a priest arranged by the Kashi Vishwanath temple trust performed the Shayan Arti of the deities inside the southern cellar. A gate was also installed after cutting steel grills near the southern cellar doors,” Rajalingam said, reported The Times of India.
On the same day Hindus conducted prayer inside the mosque, workers of the Hindutva group Rashtriya Hindu Dal were seen vandalising signboards in the area, pasting the words “mandir” and “temple” on a sign showing the way to the Gyanvapi mosque.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court asked the Anjuman Intezamia Masajid Committee to approach the Allahabad High Court against the Varanasi district court’s order allowing the prayers inside the mosque complex.