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Print edition : Jun 17, 2022 T+T-

‘Shivling not mentioned in survey report’

S.M. Yaseen, joint secretary of the Anjuman Intezamiya Masjid Managing Committee.

S.M. Yaseen, joint secretary of the Anjuman Intezamiya Masjid Managing Committee. | Photo Credit: By Special Arrangement

Interview with S.M. Yaseen, Anjuman Intezamiya Masjid Managing Committee.

S.M. Yaseen, joint secretary of the Anjuman Intezamiya Masjid Managing Committee, refuted claims made in the media about the discovery of a Shivling on the Gyanvapi mosque’s premises. The survey report does not mention the discovery of a Shivling. According to him, a media trial was under way in connection with the happenings in Varanasi. He was confident that the court proceedings would unearth the truth. Excerpts from an exclusive interview with Frontline:

Having witnessed the entire matter from close quarters, what is your response to the survey and the manner in which it was conducted?
The survey should not have happened in the first place. Whether the case is worth hearing at all should have been first heard by the trial court. They should have followed Order VII, Rule 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure. [Law on rejection of plaints. It is a rule that questions the maintainability of the suit filed by the plaintiffs. This was filed by the Muslim side, rejecting the Hindu side’s claim of worshipping rights inside the mosque.] Yeh toh aanan faanan mein survey kar diya [the survey was conducted in a hurried manner]. Now, after all this, the trial court is finally going to hear the matter in the proper way. Only after the Supreme Court passed the order, now the district judge is hearing the matter.
You have seen the survey report. What does it say?
Yes, I finally managed to see the survey report. It does not mention Shivling anywhere. It mentions that an object has been found. We will raise our objections in the proper manner in the court in time. It is not a Shivling, it is a fountain, it has always been a fountain and it will remain a fountain in the future as well. A complete distortion of facts is happening through a media trial. This should not have happened. We will object to this in time.
Ever since the demolition of the Babri Masjid, the Sangh Parivar has been saying that Kashi and Mathura are next on their agenda. Do you think there is a larger political agenda behind what is happening?
Maybe there is. But Muslims are not scared. We are going through the proper channel and justice will be done.
Gauri Shringar puja has been taking place for many years. Did it ever cause tension between Hindus and Muslims of the area?
Never. Because the puja takes place outside the masjid, we have no problems with that. The area outside the masjid and beyond its barricades is where, for years now, Hindu women have performed puja. Why should we have a problem? It is wrong to say that the shrine is inside the mosque. Hindus and Muslims here have lived without a problem, each following their own tradition in respective spaces.
Tell us a little bit about Gyanvapi and its history.
Gyanvapi has existed for 500-600 years or even longer than that. It is very old. The mosque itself was built by the Sharqi Sultans of Jaunpur. Akbar later improved upon it. The ruins of the temple behind the mosque were part of the markaz [centre] of Akbar’s Din-i-ilahi [a syncretic religious tradition propounded by Akbar with elements of both Hinduism and Islam to unite his subjects who were divided on the question of religion]. Aurangzeb later renovated it.
The ancient city of Benaras is known for its Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb [Ganga-Jamuna culture].
That is true, and we are trying to maintain that in the future as well. And this is not a new phenomenon, it has been going on for years. Bismillah Khan, the famous shehnai player, used to play his shehnai inside the mandir. Shah Jahan’s eldest son, Dara Shikoh, came here to learn Sanskrit and Hinduism. The renowned Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib took shelter at a vaidya’s [Ayurvedic doctor] and got his treatment done on this soil. He wrote some very moving nazm [poem] on the Ganga. Bahaut sher-o-shayari ki unhone [he composed many poems in the distinctive Urdu form in Benaras]. Hindus and Muslims have lived in peace and harmony for decades. The two communities are like the tana bana [warp and weft], which hold a fabric together.