Saturday, June 22, 2024

MP: Muslims accuse ASI of physical excavation at Kamal-Bhojshala complex despite SC order

Members of the Kamal Maulana Intezamia Committee have accused the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) of conducting physical excavation during the ongoing survey at Maulana Kamal Masjid-Bhojshala complex in Madhya Pradesh’s Dhar despite Supreme Court order against it.

Last Friday, Muslim worshippers held a silent protest by tying black bands on their hands against ASI for defying the apex court order that said: “No physical excavation that would alter the character of the premises should be carried out”.

Two ASI officials declined to comment against the allegations. Conservation Assistant Prashant Patankar of the Mandav Sub Circle and Additional Director General (ADG) of ASI Alok Tripathi didn’t refute the accusations.

This matter is in the court, I cannot speak on this matter,” Alok Tripathi told Maktoob.

Dhar City Qazi (cleric) Waqar Sadiq said deep pits have been dug on the left side of the mosque, in contempt of the Supreme Court order.

“We have complained against this several times by submitting memorandums but no action has been taken yet,” Sadiq told Maktoob. The survey has been ongoing for the last 64 days.

The exercise began after the Madhya Pradesh High Court ordered a complete scientific investigation of the complex. Although the mosque committee challenged the order in the Supreme Court, the bench refused to stay, observing that the “nature and character of the whole monument, admittedly maintained by the Central government, needs to be demystified and freed from the shackles of confusion”.

Qazi Sadik said they will move to court after the judicial institution begins after the summer vacation.

Kamal Maulana Intezamia Committee chief Zulfiqar Pathan alleged tampering with the mosque’s structure.

“We submitted a memorandum to the District Magistrate in the name of the President of India and the Chief Justice of India. Through the memorandum, we have demanded to stop the physical excavation in the mosque premises. ASI is digging 6 to 9 feet deep pits. There is a possibility of water filling in these places during the rainy season, which can cause damage to the mosque premises,” Pathan told Maktoob.

“We have just submitted a memorandum and if our demands are not met, we will protest further,” Pathan added.

This 11th-century monument comes under the Archaeological Survey of India. While the Muslim side calls it Maulana Kamal Mosque, the Hindu side claims that it is Bhojshala, which they consider to be the temple of Saraswati or Vagdevi. The ASI website calls it “Maulana Kamal Masjid-Bhojshala”.

There has been a dispute between both communities for many years regarding this 11th-century monument.

The Archaeological Survey of India issued an order regarding this in April 2003. According to that, Hindus are allowed to worship inside the Bhojshala complex every Tuesday, while Muslims are allowed to offer namaz here every Friday.

On March 11, 2024, while hearing the Hindu Front for Justice petition, the Indore Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court ordered a scientific survey of the premises in six weeks. After this, ASI sought eight more weeks, which the High Court granted.

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