The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) on Saturday submitted an application before the Varanasi District Court, seeking an additional eight weeks’ time to submit its report on the court-ordered scientific survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex to ascertain whether the mosque was “constructed over a pre-existing structure of a Hindu temple”.
The ASI was given four weeks to wrap up the survey, the deadline for which ended on Saturday.
The application, submitted by the ASI, couldn’t be heard by the court on Saturday and will be taken up very soon, said officials.
In its application, the ASI said, “…In compliance with the said order, the ASI is conducting a scientific investigation/survey at the site. A team of archaeologists, archaeological chemists, epigraphists, surveyors, photographers, and other technical personnel have been engaged in scientific investigations and documentation.”
It said that a team of experts from the Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), Hyderabad “is also conducting GPR survey and acquired data is being analysed and studied”.
The application said that a lot of trash and debris was found in the cellars of the mosque “covering the original features of structure”.
“Cleaning of this trash/debris etc above the working floor level is in progress to examine the
structures scientifically. As the court has directed to conduct a survey beneath the ground of all the cellars, it is necessary that soil/debris dumped or accumulated there is removed without causing any damage to the standing structure,” read the application.
It said, “The debris is being removed very carefully and systematically, which is a slow process and going to take some more time before the ground of all the cellars is cleared for the survey”.
Speaking to The Sunday Express on Saturday evening, Standing Government Counsel Amit
Srivastava, who represents ASI, said, “We have asked for eight more weeks. No order was passed on Saturday, and we expect that the matter will be heard soon.”
Asked if the survey would be continued on Sunday, he said, “Representatives of the ASI
will hold a meeting today and take a call on that.”
On July 21, Varanasi District and Sessions Judge AK Vishvesha had directed the ASI to “undertake scientific investigation/survey/excavation at the property in question i.e. settlement plot number 9130 (Gyanvapi mosque)”.
The survey was to exclude the wuzukhana area sealed by the Supreme Court. However, the survey was halted after the mosque committee approached the Allahabad High Court, and then the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the survey. Both courts cleared the decks for the survey and it was resumed on August 4 amid security arrangements. Since August 4, the ASI officials have been conducting the survey at the mosque seven days of the week.
On August 4, the court of Varanasi District and Sessions Judge A K Vishvesha had granted the ASI four weeks’ time to submit its report on the survey being conducted at the Gyanvapi mosque.