Indian Court Permits Hindus to Pray Inside Contested Mosque in Varanasi

An Indian court in Varanasi has granted permission for Hindu worshippers to pray inside the Gyanvapi mosque, a move that addresses a longstanding religious dispute. The mosque, constructed in the 17th century by the Mughal Empire, has been a focal point for Hindu activists seeking to reclaim Islamic places of worship.

The court ruling allows Hindu worshippers, who believe the mosque stands on the site of a destroyed Shiva temple, to pray in the building's basement. The verdict directs district authorities to make the necessary arrangements within the next seven days to facilitate worshippers. This decision is part of an ongoing legal battle over the Gyanvapi mosque's future.

The Gyanvapi mosque is situated in Varanasi, a city where Hindus from across the country cremate their loved ones by the Ganges river. The recent survey by India's archaeological agency appears to support the belief that the mosque was originally a temple.

The court's decision comes amid heightened sensitivities regarding religious disputes in India. Prime Minister Modi recently presided over the inauguration of a Hindu temple in Ayodhya, constructed on the grounds of the historic Babri mosque. Modi characterized the temple's opening as marking the beginning of a new era.

The Gyanvapi mosque issue has deep historical and cultural implications, reflecting the complex interplay between India's Hindu and Muslim communities. The court's ruling to allow Hindu worshippers to pray in the mosque's basement adds another layer to the ongoing legal complexities surrounding religious sites in the country. The decision is expected to impact the dynamics between different religious communities and may fuel further debates on the rightful ownership and use of religious structures with historical significance.

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