The day after he laid the foundation stone for the project, Modi posted a video on Twitter, which depicted a digital rendering of the government’s vision for the corridor—now renamed the Vishwanath dham. The video showed a large open complex around the Kashi Vishwanath temple—instead of the crowded lanes—complete with a performance space, a heritage library, shops for devotees, offices for the temple workers, and a “mandir chowk.” Through the video, the Gyanvapi mosque remains visible but is unmarked—in discernible contrast to all other structures on the corridor, each of which is individually labelled. HCP, a design and planning firm based in Gujarat, is credited with the plan
For decades now, the Hindu Right has staked claim to the Gyanvapi mosque site, but its plans to take it over have not seen fruition. The Kashi Vishwanath corridor, however, has provided Hindu groups a golden opportunity to revive their efforts. Many in Varanasi see the project as the BJP’s attempt to strengthen its foothold among Shaivites across the nation, and further, to instigate a takeover of the mosque site, and stoke communal tensions in the area to its political benefit.
“Earlier the mosque was covered on all sides, and was not that visible,” Sudhanshu Tiwari, the librarian at the Vishwanath Sanskrit Library, located half a kilometre away, said. Now that the area around it is clear, he continued, “it’ll start to become visible.” Though the administration has not officially stated its view on the Gyanvapi mosque, all signs indicate that with the corridor project, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Sangh Parivar are laying the ground for an incident that will mirror the demolition of the Babri Masjid.
On the ground, the distance between the mosque and the temple is less than ten metres—the two share a boundary wall and access to the two sites is often through common gates. The mosque compound is spread over three plots, .... As the work for the corridor has accelerated, so has the frequency of incidents related to the Gyanvapi mosque. Not long after the Allahabad high court issued its stay, on 25 October 2018, a government contractor demolished the Chhattadwar Chabutra, the boundary wall on the north side of the mosque site. The incident caused a small flare-up among the local residents. Muslims from the area gathered, and protested the administration’s decision, stating that it would endanger the mosque.