Maharashtra: What prompted ASI to shut Aurangzeb's tomb in Aurangabad?
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Thursday closed the tomb of the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb, in Maharashtra's Aurangabad distinct for five days following a political tempest. The decision came just two days after the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Gajanan Kale made incendiary statements regarding the memorial. Notably, a local mosque group had also asked the administration to close the monument.
- This comes at a time when there are several disputes going on in the country involving old monuments and religious places.
- The latest include the Varanasi Gyanvapi Mosque-Shringar Gauri case and the Shahi Idgah Mosque case of Mathura.
- Notably, such cases have assumed significance following the Supreme Court's decision in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi case in 2019.
MNS spokesperson Kale earlier demanded that the Mughal emperor's tomb be demolished. "What is the need for Aurangzeb's grave in the land of Shivaji Maharaj? Demolish this grave, so that no separatists (like Owaisi) will come to bow on it," Kale had tweeted on Tuesday. "Even Balasaheb Thackeray had said the same, don't you want to listen to anything of Balasaheb? (sic)" he added.
Kale's remark came after AIMIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi's visit to the tomb earlier this month was chastised by the ruling Shiv Sena, the BJP, and the Raj Thackeray-led MNS. BJP leaders also demanded that Owaisi be prosecuted for sedition. Sharad Pawar, the NCP president, too jumped the gun, speculating that the action was designed to stir up new controversy in Maharashtra.
Following the political statements, the police and the ASI increased security at the protected site in the Aurangabad district's Khuldabad area. However, the mosque committee, in coordination with the police, requested that the tomb be closed for a few days. As a result, the ASI issued the closure notice on Thursday.
According to Milankumar Chauley, the ASI's Aurangabad circle superintendent, the tomb has been closed for five days beginning Thursday at the request of the mosque committee and the police. Meanwhile, the Aurangabad Police told the media the situation at the monument is under control. "No untoward incident has taken place. However, the tomb has been shut for tourists as a precautionary measure," it said.