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Former ASI regional director KK Muhammed explains why Muslims should voluntarily hand over the land at Ayodhya to Hindus

The former regional director, North, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), KK Muhammed, in his interview to TOI confirmed that there is enough archaeological proof of a grand temple below the Babri Mosque.

The Supreme Court bench hearing the politically sensitive, Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid land dispute case on a day to day basis has tentatively decided to give a verdict by November 18. On the fifth day of the hearing in the case, Ram Lalla’s lawyer, when asked by the court, affirmed that the exact site of Rama’s birthplace is where the Babri Masjid once stood in the present-day Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh.

It is believed, the Mughals demolished a Hindu shrine that marked the spot and constructed a mosque in its place.

Now, the former regional director, North, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), KK Muhammed, who was a part of the team of archaeologists which had carried out the first excavation at the site in 1976-77, has endorsed this belief. He, in an interview with Time of India, has confirmed that there is enough archaeological proof of a grand temple below the Babri Mosque.

While speaking to the media house, Muhammed shared his thoughts on what made him feel that Muslims should voluntarily hand over the land at Ayodhya.

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The former regional director of the ASI discusses three important aspects which prove the existence of a Hindu shrine under the Babri tomb.

The first aspect- Archaeological evidence:

Muhammed divulged that archaeologically there is enough evidence to say that below the controversial Babri structure, there were temple remains. In fact, there was a grand temple structure, he said.

He goes on to speak about the two excavations which were carried out at the site.

First excavation (1976-77):

The first excavation was carried out in the year 1976-77 under the eminent archaeologist BB Lal, who was the director-general of ASI from 1968-72.

Muhammed said that he was the only Muslim who was a part of the team during the first excavation.

Excavation has two important components. As per the procedure, first surface exploration was conducted to find out the remains on the surface. The former director divulged that during the process he saw 12 pillars of the mosque which were made from temple remains.

On being asked as to how he understood that the pillars were made of the temple remains, the archaeologist explained that in almost all temple structures from 12th and 13th centuries, you get ‘Purna Kalasha’ at the base. It is the structure of a ‘ghada’ (water pitcher) from which foliage is seen coming out. It is the symbol of prosperity in Hinduism. He also said that although there were no gods and goddess, there was ‘Asht-Mangala Chinhas’, the suit of eight auspicious symbols in Hinduism.

Base of a pillar excavated at the Ram Mandir site

He divulged that the example of this can be still seen at Quwwatul Islam mosque near Qutub Minar. This mosque, he said, was also made out of the remains of 27 temples. There was evidence for this as well, Muhammed confirmed. A book called Taj-ul-Masir, written by Hassan Nizami, also confirms that temples were destroyed and a mosque was constructed out of it.

He added that there is also an inscription in front of the Quwwatul mosque which confirms that it was made out of the spoils of 27 temples. When you go inside, you can see a number of ‘Purna Kalashas’ and a number of gods and goddesses, he confirmed.

Similar things were also present in Babri masjid site also. Though there were no god and goddesses, the presence of ‘Asht-Mangala Chinha’ and other structures archaeologically proves that the pillars of temple remains were found at the disputed site. “So, on the basis of these, any archaeologist would say that these are temple remains”, said the expert while talking tho TOI.

Muhammed went on to recollect that BB Lal had also then undertaken the excavation of the western side of the mosque. The pillar bases were also excavated. A number of terracotta sculptures were found. Had it been a mosque, depictions of human beings or animals would never be there as Islam considers it to be ‘haraam’ (forbidden or proscribed). This means there was a temple, said the former director.

However, Muhammed said that these findings were not highlighted by BB Lal then as their excavation purpose was not to establish whether there was a temple or not but to examine the cultural sequence of the place.

Asked whether these findings were ever highlighted, Muhammed remembered that a group of leftist historians led by Romila Thapar, DN Jha and RS Sharma among others went to the media around 1990 and falsely claimed that no temple remains were found in the excavation and that the report did not mention it either, which was actually a faulty statement.

The expert recollects that though BB Lal had then defended that the excavation team did find temple remains, they did not make an issue about it.

That time the Ayodhya issue was not as heated up as it became later, said the archaeologist.

Moving ahead with his interview, Muhammed said that he had then vociferously claimed that being the only Muslim in the team he could vouch that temple remains were found during the excavation process.

Muhammed opined that this is as important for Hindus as Mecca and Medina for Muslims. Therefore, Muslims should willingly hand it over to Hindus.

Second excavation (2003):

The second excavation was carried out in 2003 under the supervision of archaeologists Hari Manjhi and BR Mani, as per the directions of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court. By that time the mosque structure had been already destroyed by karsevaks. Before the excavation, a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) survey was conducted. It found that there were several structures below the ground within the compound. Many anomalies were reported. “Anomalies meaning that you will be getting structures below the Babri Masjid”, he said.

Since this time the excavation was being done as per the court’s directive, the report assumes the status of a Court Commissioner’s report and it is fully authentic. The report by the ASI is impartial and scientific, explained the former director.

During this time more than 90 pillar bases in 17 rows were exposed. This meant that the structure was imposing and large. This structure discovered was that of a temple below the Babri Mosque which dated back to the 12th century AD, confirmed Muhammed.

The archaeologists also discovered the temple ‘pranala’. The expert then goes on to talk about the historical significance of the ‘pranala’ in Hindu culture.

We have to bathe the deity and the ‘abhishek jal’ flows through ‘pranali’. The pranali is mostly ‘makara pranali’, having a crocodile face, he explained. Crocodile is a symbol of river Ganga. In some of the temples before reaching the ‘garbha griha’ (sanctum sanctorum), on the one side, there would be a lady standing on crocodile and on the other side there would be a lady standing on a tortoise, which meant taking a symbolic bath in rivers Ganga, the Yamuna and the underground Saraswati. After cleansing yourself of all the previous sins, you are going to the main God.

This ‘makara pranali’ was excavated, exclaimed the expert saying that these are exclusively the property of a temple. Also, on top of the temple just below the ‘kalasha’, there is another architectural member known as ‘amalka’. It was also excavated. Below the ‘amalka’ there is the ‘grivah’ and also the ‘shikhara’, portion of a temple in North India. These were all excavated during the 2003 procedure.

Moreover, 263 pieces of terracotta objects of various gods and goddess, human figures and female figures were excavated from the disputed site in Ayodhya, informed Muhammed.

Apart from all these things, a ‘Vishnu Hari Sheela Phalak’ inscription was also found in two pieces from the site. Though this finding was not a part of the excavation, it was discovered after the demolition of the Babri structure. However, it forms crucial circumstantial evidence, which clearly says the temple has been dedicated to Lord Vishnu who had killed Bali and a 10-headed person.

The team hired by the Waqf Committee said the structure at Ayodhya was another mosque before the Babri Mosque. While they call it a structure, we call it a temple, said the expert, authenticating the presence of a temple under the Babri tomb, which the Muslim counsel has been disputing in the SC hearing.

Had it been a mosque, how could you get these terracotta objects of various living beings? Reiterated the expert claiming that depiction of any living being is prohibited in Islam.

Then how could you get sculptures of living beings had it been a mosque? So, it was not a mosque.

When asked as to what proof was there that the second excavation was impartial, Muhammed confirmed that firstly the entire process was videographed, and apart from the archaeologists, court-appointed judicial members were present at the time when the excavation was being carried out.

Besides, the excavation team which comprised off several eminent Muslim archaeologists namely, Ghulam Syeddin Khwaja from ASI, who retired as director of Arabic and Persian epigraphy at Nagpur, Atiqur Rehman Siddiqui who retired as a superintending archaeologist of Agra, Zulfikar Ali, who presently is the superintending archaeologist of Chandigarh circle and AA Hashmi, who retired from Chanderi, not only carried the excavation but they also were co-authors of the report which was submitted to the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad HC. The report was highly fool-proof, claimed the former director, KK Muhammed.

The report’s conclusion was simple- there was a pre-existing temple under the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya which was dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

Muhammed remembered that though there was no dissenting view, some hired experts of the Waqf committee, who had differing opinion had tried to crate confusion then. But the Court Commissioner’s report is crucial and final.

When asked whether the findings will have an impact on the Supreme Court’s decision, Muhammed said that “I only believe that the Supreme Court cannot come out with any other kind of judgement” since the archaeological evidence is fully in favour of a Hindu temple, but even if for some reason they do give another kind of judgment, the chances of which are bleak, that would be a decision which would not be able to implement, since a lot of Hindu emotions are attached to that place.

The second aspect- Literary evidence:

The expert moves on to talk about the second important aspect of the case, that is the literary aspect to prove that Hindus continued to worship at that place in Ayodhya.

In Ain-e-Akbari Volume III, Abu Fazal says that Ayodhya was worshipped by Hindus in the month of Chaitra.

Secondly, the travelogue of a traveller known as William Filch (1608-1611), who visited India during the time of Jahangir said a lot of people assembled and worshipped at this place in Ayodhya.

In 1631, during the time of Jehangir and Shah Jahan, a Dutch geographer John Daeleat also speaks about the worship of the place by Hindus.

Thomas Herbert (1606-1682) also speaks about the Hindu worship of the place at Ayodhya. And moreover, one Joseph Taissen Thaler, who wrote in 1766, also wrote about the erection of a cradle at the place. It was for the first time, he said that the temple was destroyed either by Babur or Aurangzeb.

The third aspect- Social or emotional aspect:

Muhammed in his detailed interview to TOI divulged on the third and last aspect, which is the social issue. The emotional connect of the Hindus to this place is what he said is the last aspect which leaves no doubt on the existence of a temple at the disputed spot.

He said that Ram Temple at Ayodhya is as important for Hindus as Mecca an Medina is for Muslims.

Since this place is not of any emotional value to the Muslims as it is neither associated with Prophet Mohammed nor any Auliya like Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti of Ajmer, neither Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi or Salim Chisti of Fatehpur Sikri, so Muslims should willingly hand it over to Hindus.

“If Muslims had shown a willingness on their part, many of the problems that they facing might have been automatically solved. That would have generated goodwill among Hindus also”, said KK Muhammed.

He further adds that the Muslims are trapped by the Marxist historians and therefore are not being able to think independently and prudently. “Even now the time has not elapsed. Before the Supreme Court gives its judgment, Muslims should hand over the place to Hindus and create an example. That is my humble request to them”, said the eminent archaeologist.

Meanwhile, Chief Justice Gogoi has set October 18 as the tentative date to finish the hearing in the case. He had also said that the parties involved in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute case were free to settle the matter, through mediation as well if they so desired. However, senior lawyer CS Vaidyanathan, appearing for deity Ram Lalla Virajman, said yesterday that he did not want to take part in the mediation any further and would like a judicial decision from the bench.

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