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Qutb mosque built with remains of 27 temples that might not have been demolished: ASI

While Qutb al Din Aibak wrote he had constructed the Qutb Minar out of temple materials, there is no proof he demolished them to erect Islamic structures in their place, the ASI said

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Qutb mosque built with remains of 27 temples that might not have been demolished: ASI

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) today reiterated in a court of the view held by the community of historians, who cite the writings of slave king Qutb al Din Aibak to back their claim, that the Qutb Minar complex was built out of materials extracted from Hindu and Jain temples alright, but it was not clear whether the sultan had found those temples in ruins and he demolished them to build Islamic structures on the plot in Mehrauli. The ASI said the Qutb Minar was a monument and that no one could claim a fundamental right over such structures — in response to a petition filed before the court that sought restoration of 27 temples that the petitioner alleged were destructed to construct the Qutb Minar.

The said in its affidavit that as per the Ancient Monuments Act, the Qutb Minar Complex was a monument and no right to worship could 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.

Sirf News had recently recounted the history of the Qutb Minar and the complex around it.

The statement comes amid a controversy that erupted after ’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.

The court today listed the order in the Qutb Minar complex for 9 June after the arguments in the matter were concluded. The court mentioned 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 (sic). You say it’s a monument without worship and, as such, it should continue like that. They say it’s a temple pre-existing and, suppose this is a situation, can it be decided under Order 7 Rule 11?” the court posed while dictating the judgment.

Hari Shankar Jain, one of the appellants, has demanded the deities be restored and worship be offered at the complex. The court has said that if permission is granted, the fabric of the 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, Jain called it a denial of a constitutional right and argued that it was a fundamental right to worship, which was being denied. Jain stated that there were two idols of Ganesha situated on the premises since time immemorial and that he feared that the was likely to remove them to one of the National Museums as mere artefacts.

Meanwhile, the Culture Ministry is considering conducting an iconography of the Hindu and Jain idols found in the Qutb 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 Tarun Vijay, the chairperson of the National Monument Authority, wrote to the ASI, requesting that the 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 was discussing if some of these idols could be labelled and displayed. He reasoned that such idols in different forms could be seen all around — as the mosque was built from stones of temples. The official said that as of now there was no plan to reinstate these idols or move them elsewhere.

Earlier in May, some 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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