It came as a jolt to the Muslim side in the controversial Gyanvapi mosque case, when a Varanasi Court on Monday, dismissed a plea of the Anjuman Islamia Masjid committee challenging the maintainability of the suit filed by five Hindu women seeking worship rights inside the Gyanvapi mosque compound.
District Judge AK Vishvesh delivered the verdict in the Gyanvapi Shrinagar Gauri dispute case and posted the matter to further hearing on September 22.
Interestingly, it was five Hindu women namely Laxmi Devi, Rakhi Singh, Sita Sahu, Manju Vyas and Rekha Pathak who filed the petition in the Varanasi court on 18 August, 2021, seeking permission to worship the deities of Shringar Gauri, Lord Ganesh, Lord Hanuman and Nandi regularly, as well as barring opponents from harming the statues inside the disputed Gyanvapi structure.
The group of women who used to perform Puja at the Shringar Gauri platform inside the mosque compound adjacent to the Kashi Vishwanath temple once a year had filed a petition in the district court seeking permission for ‘permanent right of worship’.
While Laxmi Devi, Sita Sahu, Manju Vyas and Rekha Pathak reside in Varanasi, Rakhi Singh, the fifth and principal petitioner, is stays in Delhi.
According to the media reports, Rakhi Singh (35) is the youngest of the five petitioners, who resides in the Hauz Khas area of south Delhi and is the founding member of the Vishwa Vedic Sanathan Sangh.
Sita Sahu (40), a resident of Varanasi runs a general store. The mother-of-three, Sahu has attended RSS training camps as a student.
Manju Vyas (49) runs a small beauty parlour from her home, where she lives with her husband and stays not farther than 2 kms from Gyanvapi mosque.
Rekha Pathak, a housewife, lives in the Hanuman Phatak area. Born and raised in Varanasi, Pathak is the daughter of Dayashankar Tripathi, mahant of the well-known Laat Bhairav temple in Varanasi.
The eldest of all, Laxmi Devi (65) is the wife of VHP leader Sohan Lal Arya. Originally from Mumbai, Maharashtra, she moved to Varanasi after marriage. Her husband is the VHP vice-president for Varanasi ‘prant’. She was the first to claim the black stone structure found inside the Gyanvapi mosque was a Shivling.
The Hindu side in the case had claimed in the lower court that a Shivling was found during the video graphic survey of the Gyanvapi mosque-Shringar Gauri complex, which was contested by the Muslim side.
The petitioners said the filming goes against the Places of Worship Act of 1991, which maintains the religious status of any place of worship as of August 15, 1947.
The court will further hear the case on Sept 22.