No such decision has been taken, Union Culture Minister GK Reddy said today while dismissing several media reports that excavation can be done in Delhi’s iconic Qutub Minar complex. Sources had earlier said that the Ministry of Culture had issued instructions to get iconography of idols done at the complex, and excavation can be started at a distance of 15 meters from the mosque to the south of Qutub Minar. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was to start excavations and report to the Culture Ministry, they said.
However, Minister Reddy told news agency ANI that no such decision has been taken yet.
After Culture Secretary Govind Mohan visited the monument on Saturday, it was reported that the ASI has been ordered to conduct excavations to ascertain whether Qutub was built by Qutubuddin Aibak or Chandragupta Vikramaditya, The Indian Express reported, adding that the Ministry insists that it was a regular site visit by its officials and no such decision has been taken so far.
A Delhi court had last month directed the ASI not to remove two idols of Lord Ganesha from the Qutub Minar complex till further directions.
The court passed the order on a suit filed by advocate Hari Shankar Jain on behalf of Jain deity Tirthankar Lord Rishabh Dev, claiming that 27 temples were partly demolished by Qutubdin Aibak, a general in the army of Mohamad Gauri, and Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque was raised inside the complex by reusing the material.
Mr Jain stated that there were two idols of Lord Ganesha, situated on the premises since times immemorial and that he apprehended that the ASI was likely to remove them to one of the National Museums as mere artefacts, news agency PTI had reported.
One Vishnu Shankar Jain had also filed a petition in Delhi’s Saket court demanding the reinstallation of idols of Hindu deities in the complex and rights to prayer at the site. The matter will be heard on May 24. The court had asked the Centre and ASI to file responses in the matter.
44 members of two right-wing groups were detained earlier this month after they recited the Hanuman Chalisa in front of the Qutub Minar complex and demanded it be renamed “Vishnu Stambh”. The police said they were temporarily detained as they were obstructing traffic in the area.
Recently, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) spokesperson Vinod Bansal also claimed that Qutub Minar was actually “Vishnu Stambh”. He said that the monument was built with materials obtained after demolishing 27 Hindu and Jain temples.