NEW DELHI, INDIA, May 24, 2022 (Tribune India): Amid a raging controversy over claims and counter-claims on historic monuments, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Tuesday opposed before a Delhi court a plea demanding restoration of worship of Hindu and Jain Deities inside the Qutub Minar complex. The ASI, which has the mandate to protect and preserve ancient monuments, said it’s not a place of worship and the existing status of the monument could not be altered. It would be contrary to the law to agree to the contention of any person claiming a fundamental right to worship in this “centrally protected” monument, it added. The ASI, however, said the architectural materials and images of Hindu and Jain Deities were re-used in the construction of the Qutub complex. Additional District Judge Nikhil Chopra said he would pronounce on June 9 his order on a plea against a magisterial court order dismissing a suit filed by advocate Hari Shankar Jain on behalf of Jain Deity Tirthankar Lord Rishabh Dev. Jain claimed that 27 temples were partly razed by Qutubdin Aibak, a general in the army of Mohammad Gauri, and Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque was raised in the complex by reusing the material.

There were two statues of Lord Ganesha, situated on the premises since times immemorial and that he apprehended that the ASI was likely to remove them to one of the National Museums as mere artifacts, Jain submitted. However, the ASI didn’t support his demand for restoration of the right to worship. Revival of worship was not allowed wherever it was not practiced at the time of protection of a monument, the ASI said. “Qutub Minar is not a place of worship and since the time of its protection by the central government, Qutub Minar or any part of Qutub Minar was not under worship by any community,” the ASI said. The counsel for the ASI further said that it was very clear from the Persian inscription at the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque that the cloisters were erected with carved columns and other architectural members from 27 temples. “It is only recently that these things are coming up,” he said.

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