Tuesday, August 26, 2003, Chandigarh, India

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Evidence of temple found: ASI
Our Correspondent

Lucknow, August 25
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which carried out an excavation in Ayodhya, has claimed to have found a 10th century temple beneath the Babri mosque site in its report which was made public by the Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court today.

The Sunni Central Waqf Board (SCWB), however, termed the report as “vague” and “self-contradictory.” “It was prepared under political pressure,” Mr Zaffaryab Jilani, counsel of the board, told reporters here.

“The ASI report has said the evidence of the existence of an ancient temple of North Indian art has been found at the disputed site,” lawyers Ranjana Agnihotri and L.P. Mishra told reporters.

They said remains of such a temple were dug out during the excavation.

Quoting the report, the lawyers said the evidence showed presence of a 10th century temple at the disputed site.

“The discoveries made during the excavation including pillar bases, earthen stoves and figurines, suggest presence of a temple,” said Mr Vireshwar Dwivedi. “The alignment of pillar bases suggests that it was a temple that was razed to build a mosque there.”

Mr Jilani called the report as “politically motivated.” “The report talks about the presence of a temple like structure, but it was not there where sanctum sanctorum is,” he told The Tribune

“The report talks about massive structures at a depth of 50 metres, but how can the ASI say it when it had not dug so deep,” Mr Jilani said. “The ASI has filed a saffron report.”

Mr Abdul Mannan, another Muslim counsel, said they would challenge the report. “We have a team of six archaeologists who will study the report and file objections,” he told reporters today.

The court has given six weeks’ time to both parties to file their objections.

The ASI had carried out the excavation at the disputed site for more than four months and had discovered 1,360 artefacts, including human figurines, earthen stoves and pillar bases.

PTI adds: The 574-page ASI report consisting of written opinions and maps and drawings was opened before the Full Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court on Monday morning.

In a significant observation, the report said towards east of this central point, a circular depression with projection on the west, cut into the large-sized brick pavement, signifying the place where some important object was placed.


ASI findings may not resolve title dispute
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 25
The Archaeological Survey of India’s findings of existence of a temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya are unlikely to resolve the title suit dispute, claimed the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board.

However, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, asked the Muslims to hand over the area as the ASI had conclusively established the existence of a temple at the site. The organisation also asked the government to legislate on the issue as Muslims would use legal fora to delay the process.

Talking to TNS, Dr S. Q. R. Ilyas, convener of the board, said the ASI report was “vague” and “self-contradictory” and the findings of the ASI would be challenged.

He said the title suit was about the ownership of the disputed area as on December 22, 1949. And the FIR by the Faizabad District Commissioner and the affidavit filed by the UP Government in the court clearly stated that the place was being used as a mosque and the idol was “surreptitiously” placed at the place.

“We had opposed the need for excavation at the site as it had little legal value in deciding the title suit case. There were 24 issues involved in the title suit and the claims of existence of temple at the site was only one of the issues raised by the contending parties,” he said.

On the ASI’s findings, Dr Ilyas said “archaeology is not a pure science and its findings are based on probability and corelations.”

Given such a scenario, it could not be conclusively assumed that the issue had been sealed. Further, the interim report had indicated that there was no structural activity in many trenches.

However, RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav told TNS from Hyderabad that the ASI’s findings reiterated what they had been stating all along.

“Now, that a conclusive proof has come from the ASI, it is for the government to legislate on the issue as Muslims would delay the process,” he said.

Mr Madhav said the “Muslims should hand over the area as the ASI has categorically established that a temple existed in the area and the Babri masjid was constructed by demolishing it.”

Since the final word on the issue has come, the judiciary should not allow the Muslims to delay the process. However, from the reaction of the Muslim leaders it seems that they would adopt methods to delay the process and the people would look upon the government to take legislative measure.

Reports stated that the sealed ASI report which was opened on Monday indicated the existence of distinctive features of a 10th century temple beneath the Babri masjid site.

The ASI report said there was archaeological evidence of a massive structure just below the disputed structure and evidence of continuity in structural activities from the 10th century onwards up to the construction of the disputed structure (Babri mosque).

Among the excavation yields it mentioned were stone and decorated bricks as well as mutilated sculpture of a divine couple and carved architectural features, including foliage patterns, amalaka, kapotapali, doorjamb with semi-circular shrine pilaster, broke octagonal shaft of black schist pillar, lotus motif, circular shrine having pranjala (watershute) in the north and 50 pillar bases in association with a huge structure. 

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