On the auspicious day of the Bhoomi Pujan ceremony, that marked the beginning of construction of the much-awaited Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, infamous left-leaning portal ‘The Wire’ replugged one of its old articles, raising questions over the legitimacy of the claims on the existence of a temple underneath the Babri structure.
The article titled–”Archeologist Who Observed Dig Says No Evidence of Temple Under Babri Masjid” was originally published on December 6, 2018, and later on November 8, 2019, cited two archaeologists–Supriya Varma and Jaya Menon, who had reportedly observed the ASI’s excavations on behalf of the Sunni Waqf Board. It argued that the ASI finding of the existence of a temple beneath the Babri structure was patently wrong.
The article refers to a paper authored by the above-mentioned archaeologists in the Economic and Political Weekly, in which they had raised questions on the practices followed by the ASI during its dig, claiming that “there was already a preconceived idea in the minds of ASI archaeologists”.
Casting aspersions on the findings of the ASI and accusing them of observing procedural lapses, The Wire article quotes Varma as saying, “There is no archaeological evidence to prove that there was a temple underneath the Babri structure. In fact, there are older mosques under the Babri structure.”
Varma also asserted that the final ASI report on excavations at the site left much to be desired. She claimed that there was no mention of the temple in the entire report by the ASI and the details about the alleged human skeletal remains recovered from the site were missing in the report.
Allahabad High Court in 2010 unanimously rejected the allegations made by “experts” such as Supriya Varma
However, while The Wire shared an old article on the day of the foundation-laying ceremony of the Ram Mandir, in a bid to dispel the fact that a temple was found underneath the Babri structure, it conveniently did not mention the Allahabad HC’s scathing observations on the allegations levelled by the archaeologists cited by The Wire.
The Allahabad High Court in 2010, headed by three judges, unanimously rejected the objections raised by the “experts” to the presence of the temple. Regarding Supriya Varma, the archaeologist quoted by The Wire in its article, the Allahabad HC observed that Varma hadn’t read about the ground penetration radar survey report that led the court to order an excavation.
The court also observed that all the independent witnesses were all connected. Varma had done her PhD under Shireen F Ratnagar, who had written “introduction” to a book by another expert who deposed, Professor Mandal. However, she admitted she had no field experience.
Verma and Menon alleged that pillar bases at the excavated site had been planted but the High Court found that both of them were not present at the time when the actual excavation took place.
The Allahabad HC judges had stated that opinions had been offered by the experts without making proper investigation, research or study in the subject. The judge remarked that he was “puzzled and startled” by contradictory claims made by the experts.
Commenting on the experts who refused to vouch for the veracity of the claims made by them, Justice Agarwal noted, “One cannot say that though I had made a statement, I am not responsible for its authenticity since it is not based on my study or research but what I have learnt from what others have uttered.”
The Allahabad HC made withering remarks against the so-called experts Supriya Varma and Jaya Menon in 2010. Yet, The Wire, granted them legitimacy by quoting them in an article in 2018, later in 2019 and now again in 2020. The sole motive of The Wire to cite the discredited ‘experts’ in their article is to undermine the Hindu claims over Ram Janmabhoomi site and strengthen the narrative that the site originally belonged to Muslims.
The timing of replugging the article is particularly notorious, with the country gripped in the festive mood following the consecration of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. It was done to sow seeds of discord among the society and paint Hindus as aggressors by wrongfully appropriating what allegedly belonged to Muslims, notwithstanding the Supreme Court verdict on the issue last year, which ended the decades-long dispute by granting the Ram Janmabhoomi site to Hindus.