The Supreme Court’s landmark verdict on the Ayodhya dispute has been welcomed by archaeologist and former Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) official Karingamannu Kuzhiyil Muhammed among others. Padma Shri awardee Muhammed said that, on the basis of the evidence given by the ASI, the Supreme Court accepted that there was a temple at the disputed site earlier and “we should now build a new temple” in that place.
Muhammed said, “I was heckled when I said that there used to be a Ram temple at the disputed site before Babri Masjid. Many organisations threatened me. This is exactly the decision we all wanted.” He said, “This place is just as important for Hindus as Mecca-Medina is for Muslims. This place is not connected with (Prophet) Mohammad Saheb.”
During the hearing of Ayodhya case last month, Muhammed had deposed that Muslims should hand over the disputed land of Ayodhya at their own will. He said in the court that the evidence found under the disputed Babri Masjid suggested that there used to be a large temple there.
Muhammed: 12 pillars of mosque remnants of temples
Muhammad said, “During the excavation in 1976-77, the entire area was under police occupation and the common people were not allowed to go there. We saw that there were 12 pillars of the mosque, which were actually the remains of the temple.”
Arguing in this case that these pillars belonged to a temple, Muhammed had said, “In most of the 12th and 13th centuries, the pillars of temples had a base like a full urn, which symbolised prosperity in Hinduism. It is known as the ashtamangala sign, which is one of the eight sacred symbols.”
Muhammed was the regional director (north) of the ASI who also served as the project archaeological director at the Aga Khan Trust for Culture from 2013 to 2016. He was honoured with Padma Shri in 2019 by President Ram Nath Kovind.
Born in Calicut of Kerala, Muhammed is credited with many archaeological findings, the chief among which are the following.
- Excavated the structure Ibadat Khana where Akbar proclaimed the formation of a composite religion known as Din-i Ilahi
- Discovered the Akbar-built first Christian chapel of northern India in Fatehpur Sikri
- Excavated the Buddhist stupa of Kesaria built by Emperor Ashoka
- Discovered and excavated Buddhist stupa in Rajgir
- Excavated the Buddhist archaeological site in Kolhua, Vaishali
- Located and excavated a number of rock-cut caves, umbrella stones, cists and Dolmens in Calicut and Malappuram districts of Kerala
Muhammed helped conserve the Barsoor and Samlur Temples in the Dantewada district near Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh, persuading Maoists active in the area in 2003 that conservation of the temples was an ode to their indigenous culture.
The archaeologist dealt with even the dacoits of Nirbhay Singh Gujjar and Gadariya, convincing them about the necessity of restoration of the Bateshwar, Morena complex of 200 ancient Shiva & Vishnu temples, 40 km from Gwalior, built by the Gurjara-Pratihara Dynasty, 200 years before Khajuraho between 9th and 11th century. [I]Articles “Man of Monuments” and “The Temple Guardian” published by The Hindu
As the superintending archaeologist of Delhi circle, ASI, in 2008. Muhammed worked on the facelift at 46 monuments for the Commonwealth Games of 2010.
Muhammed is also the brain behind the Replica Museum or Children’s Museum situated next to the Siri Fort Sports Complex behind the Siri Fort Auditorium in Delhi.[II]Article “Museum of Mirrors” in The Indian Express and report “Replica museum in Delhi crafted by Patna artists” in The Times of India
In 2016, Muhammed’s autobiography Njan Enna Bharatiyan (Malayalam for ‘I an Indian’) was released. The stoked controversy for saying that Marxist historians had sided with extremist Muslim groups and derailed attempts to find an amicable solution to the Ayodhya dispute. According to him, archaeological excavations at Ayodhya clearly indicated the presence of a temple below the mosque, but the leftist historians dismissed these, and even tried to mislead the Allahabad High Court.
In its judgment on the Ayodhya dispute on Saturday, the Supreme Court ordered the 2.77 acre of hitherto disputed land to be handed over to a trust to be formed in three months. Also, the Sunni Waqf Board has been granted an alternative 5 acre of land somewhere in Ayodhya, where the mosque can be constructed. The apex court exercised its special powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to issue this order even though none of the parties to the dispute had asked for it.
References [ + ]
|I.||↑||Articles “Man of Monuments” and “The Temple Guardian” published by The Hindu|
|II.||↑||Article “Museum of Mirrors” in The Indian Express and report “Replica museum in Delhi crafted by Patna artists” in The Times of India|