The National Monuments Authority (NMA) has asked the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) — both departments operate under the Union Ministry of Culture — to retrieve two Ganesha idols from the Qutub Minar complex where the Authority’s chairman says the “placement of the idols is disrespectful” — and move them to the National Museum, according to a report in The Indian Express.
This comes about four months after a civil suit seeking restoration of Hindu and Jain deities inside Quwwat Ul-Islam Mosque located at the Qutub Minar complex in Mehrauli was rejected by a Delhi court that observed that wrongs of the past “cannot be the basis for disturbing (the) peace of our present and future”.
Civil Judge (South) Neha Sharma at Saket court had dismissed the plaint in December 2021, observing: “India had a culturally rich history. It has been ruled over by numerous dynasties. During arguments, the counsel for (the) plaintiff has vehemently argued on the point of national shame. However, nobody has denied that wrongs were committed in the past, but such wrongs cannot be the basis for disturbing (the) peace of our present and future.”
In a letter sent to ASI late last month, the NMA said that the idols should be given a “respectable” place at the National Museum, where there was a provision for such antiquities to be displayed.
While ASI officials were not available for comment, NMA chief Tarun Vijay, who is a BJP leader and former Rajya Sabha MP, confirmed the veracity of the letter. “I visited the site several times and realised that the placement of the idols is disrespectful. They come near the feet of the mosque visitors,” he said.
The NMA was set up in 2011 for the protection and preservation of monuments and sites, and areas surrounding it.
“After Independence, we removed the statues of British kings and queens from India Gate, and changed the names of roads to erase marks of colonialism. Now we should work to reverse the cultural genocide that Hindus faced at the hands of Mughal rulers,” Vijay said.
The two idols are called “Ulta Ganesh” and “Ganesha in Cage”, located in the compound of the 12th century monument, which was designated as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1993.
The “Ulta Ganesh” is part of the south-facing wall of the Quwwat ul Islam Mosque in the complex. The other idol, enclosed in an iron cage, is close to the ground level and is part of the same mosque.
“These idols were taken — apart from those of Jain Tirthankaras and Yamuna, Dashavatar, Navagrahas — after demolishing 27 Jain and Hindu temples built by King Anangpal Tomar… The way these idols have been placed is a mark of contempt for India, and needs correction,” Vijay said.