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Mosque Built by Remains of 27 Temples But It's Unclear if They Were Demolished, Says ASI; Saket Court Posts Qutub Minar Row for June 9

A tourist takes photos at the Qutub Minar archaeological complex in New Delhi. (Image: Jewel SAMAD/AFP)

A tourist takes photos at the Qutub Minar archaeological complex in New Delhi. (Image: Jewel SAMAD/AFP)

The ASI in an affidavit stated that as per the Ancient Monuments Act, the Qutub Minar Complex is a monument and no right to worship can be granted at this place.

A Delhi court on Tuesday listed the order in the Qutub Minar complex for June 9. The arguments in the matter was concluded today and the court added that the parties would be at liberty to file brief synopsis if any within a week.

“The more fundamental question is what is the character. You say it’s a monument without worship and as such it should continue like that. They says it’s a temple pre existing and suppose this is a situation, can it be decided under Order 7 Rule 11?” the court said while dictating the judgment, according to Live Law.

Hari Shankar Jain, one of the appellants, has demanded the restoration of deities and Pooja be offered at the complex. The court has said that if the permission is granted, the fabric of constitution and secular character will be damaged.

“Now you want this monument to be turned into a temple calling it restoration, my question is how would you claim that the plaintiffs have a legal right assuming it existed about 800 years back?” the court asked.

During the hearing, Hari Shankar Jain called it a denial of constitutional right and argued that it’s a fundamental right to worship that’s being denied. Jain stated that there were two idols of Lord Ganesha, situated on the premises since times immemorial and that he apprehended that the ASI was likely to remove them to one of the National Museums as mere artifacts.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has stated before a Delhi Court that Qutub Minar complex is a monument and said no one can claim a fundamental right over such structures.

In response to a petition filed before the Court in Delhi seeking restoration of 27 temples that were allegedly destructed to construct the Qutub Minar, the ASI in an affidavit stated that as per the Ancient Monuments Act, the Qutub Minar Complex is a monument and no right to worship can be granted at this place.

“The revival of worship cannot be allowed at a monument where such a practice was not prevalent at the time of it being granted the “protected” status,” the ASI said.

The statement comes amid a controversy erupted after ASI’s ex-regional director Dharamveer Sharma claimed that the Qutb Minar was constructed by Raja Vikramaditya and not by Qutb al-Din Aibak, to study the direction of the sun.

Meanwhile, the Culture Ministry is considering conducting an iconography of the Hindu and Jain idols found in the Qutub Minar complex in Delhi, a senior official said on Monday and added that there were no plans to excavate the site or stop any religious practice.

The comments came days after Chairperson of the National Monument Authority Tarun Vijay wrote to the ASI requesting that two Ganesha idols found in the adjoining Quwwat-ul–Islam mosque be moved out of the complex “owing to their disrespectful placement”.

The official said the ministry is discussing if some of these idols can be labelled and displayed. He also said that since the mosque was built from stones of temples, such idols in different forms can be seen all around. The official said that as of now there is no plan to reinstate these idols or move them elsewhere.

Earlier this month, right wing groups staged a protest, holding placards and raising slogans, amid heavy police deployment at the Qutb Minar, demanding the complex be opened for worship and the idols in the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque to be restored.

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first published:May 24, 2022, 12:21 IST