Can't revive temple at Qutub Minar, a protected monument: ASI
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Tuesday submitted its response to Delhi's Saket court, opposing a plea to revive a temple at the site of the Qutub Minar. The ASI stated, "The revival of worship cannot be allowed at a monument where such a practice was not prevalent at the time of it being granted the 'protected' status."
- Notably, Qutub Minar has been a protected monument since 1914.
- A petition was recently filed in Delhi's Saket court, requesting that Hindu deities be restored and worshipped in the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, which is part of the Qutub Minar complex.
- According to the petition, Muhammad Ghori's general, Qutub-ud-Din Aibak, demolished 27 temples and used this material to construct the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque on the site.
The ASI stated the aforementioned petition is legally inadmissible because Qutub Minar's structure cannot be changed now. "The destruction of old temples to build the Qutub Minar complex is a matter of historical fact. The Qutub Minar complex is a living monument that has been protected since 1914. No one has the right to worship on the complex," the ASI said in its reply.
The ASI reportedly said the structure couldn't be changed per its rules and ethics as Qutub Minar has been a protected monument since 1914. "We cannot change the character of the protected area as there was no practice of worship at the time the monument was placed under protection. We cannot allow permission to worship now," it reportedly informed the court.
Earlier, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) claimed that Qutub Minar was actually "Vishnu Stambh" and that the structure was built with materials salvaged from 27 Hindu-Jain temples. Following the alleged discovery of the 1,200-year-old idols of Lord Narsingha, Ganesha, and Krishna inside Qutub Minar, several Hindu organizations have staged protests, chanted the Hanuman Chalisa, and demanded the renaming of Qutub Minar to Vishnu Stambh.
The Union Ministry of Culture recently denied reports that it had directed the ASI to conduct excavations at Delhi's iconic Qutub Minar. Earlier, reports had stated that the excavation order was issued after Hindu deity idols were allegedly discovered at the site and claimed that the site was constructed by Raja Vikramaditya, a Hindu emperor.
As per experts, the claim of a Vishnu Stambh is more plausible for the 5th century Gupta-period Iron Pillar located in the Qutub Minar complex rather than the minaret itself. Notably, Qutub Minar has been designated as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.
The controversy erupted after the ASI's former regional director, Dharamveer Sharma, recently claimed Raja Vikramaditya, not Qutub-ud-Din Aibak, built the Qutub Minar to study the Sun's direction. Later, reports emerged that excavation had been ordered, after which Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy stated that no decision had been taken yet. However, an inventory of the temples' iconography surrounding the monument is reportedly being considered.
Last week, Culture Secretary Govind Mohan and some ASI officials visited Qutub Minar, as the government was reportedly planning to build interpretation centers at 500 such monuments, similar to the one in Red Fort. Meanwhile, a Culture Ministry official has clarified the ASI's rules prohibit worship at "non-living places" amid reports that the government has issued fresh orders barring offering namaz at Qutub Minar.