The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Tuesday opposed a plea in a Delhi court seeking to restore Hindu and Jain deities inside the Qutub Minar complex, claiming that it is not a place of worship and that the monument’s current status cannot be changed.
The ASI also stated that agreeing to the claim of any person claiming a fundamental right to worship in this “centrally protected” monument would be illegal. On the other hand, the ASI claims that architectural materials and images of Hindu and Jain deities were reused in the Qutab complex’s construction.
On June 9, Additional District Judge Nikhil Chopra will rule on the plea.
“No fundamental right can be exercised in violation of any land status.” The basic principle of protection conservation is to not allow the start of any new practice in a monument that has been declared and notified as a protected monument under the Act,” according to the ASI.
It stated that revival of worship was not permitted in areas where it was not practised at the time of monument protection.
“Qutab Minar is not a place of worship, and Qutab Minar or any part of Qutab Minar has not been under worship by any community since the time of its protection by the central government,” it said.
The ASI’s lawyer went on to say that the cloisters were built with carved columns and other architectural elements from 27 temples, as evidenced by the Persian inscription at the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque. “The mosque was created with the ruins of these temples, according to the inscription. However, there is no mention of the materials being recovered by deconstructing temples.
It’s also unclear whether they were taken from the site or brought from elsewhere. Temples that were used for construction were not demolished “The lawyer stated. He went on to say that the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act made no provision for worship to begin at any living monument.
“The statute’s intent is clear: the monument should be protected and preserved in its original state for future generations.”
As a result, changing or altering the existing structure would be a clear violation of the AMASR Act and should not be permitted, according to the ASI counsel.
According to the petitioner’s submissions, the monument has been in the same condition for 800 years. “These issues have only recently surfaced,” he explained.
During the hearing, the court noted that many monuments in southern India are not being used, and no prayers are being offered. “Now you want to turn the monument into a temple.”
“How do you claim a legal right to restoration for something that happened 800 years ago?” inquired the judge.
“Once deity property, always deity property,” the petitioner said. It is never lost,” he said, adding that it is his “basic right to worship.”
The judge stated after his submission that the main issue was the “right to worship.”
“Can you tell me where this right comes from?”
“Whether or not an idol exists there is irrelevant,” the judge stated.
During the hearing, the ASI also claimed that materials were used in a haphazard manner during the construction of the complex, resulting in some images being erected upside down.
Another upside-down image of Lord Ganesha can be found in the complex.
However, because it is embedded in the wall, it is possible that it will not be possible to remove or reset it.
The court was hearing a petition challenging a magisterial court’s dismissal of a suit filed by advocate Hari Shankar Jain on behalf of Jain deity Tirthankar Lord Rishabh Dev, alleging that Qutubdin Aibak, a general in Mohammad Gauri’s army, partially demolished 27 temples and the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque was raised inside the complex by reusing the material.
Jain stated that there have been two idols of Lord Ganesha on the premises since time immemorial and that he expected the ASI to remove them as mere artefacts to one of the National Museums. A senior official from the Culture Ministry said on Monday that an iconography of Hindu and Jain idols found in the Qutub Minar complex in Delhi is being considered, but that there are no plans to excavate the site or stop the religious practice.
The remarks came just days after Tarun Vijay, the Chairperson of the National Monument Authority, wrote to the ASI requesting that two Ganesha idols found in the adjacent Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque be removed “due to their disrespectful placement.”
The ministry is debating whether some of these idols can be labelled and displayed, according to the official. He also stated that because the mosque was constructed from temple stones, such idols in various forms can be found throughout.
According to the official, there are no plans to reinstate or relocate these idols at this time.
Their display, however, is being considered. The ministry has ordered the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct excavations at the Qutub Minar complex, according to reports.
The reports were denied by Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy. Religious practises are only permitted on the premises of ASI-protected sites if they were “functioning places of worship” at the time of the incident, according to senior officials.
They stated that no religious rituals can be performed at non-living monuments where there was no continuity of worship when the site became an ASI-protected site, such as the Qutub Minar.
According to the official, the ASI has not made any recent requests to stop prayers at the site.