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The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Tuesday opposed a plea before a Delhi court seeking restoration of Hindu and Jain deities inside the Qutub Minar complex, saying it is not a place of worship and the existing status of the monument cannot be altered.
The appeal suit alleges that the Quwwat-Ul-Islam Masjid situated within the Qutub Minar complex in Mehrauli was built in place of a temple complex. The suit was filed on behalf of Jain deity Tirthankar, Lord Rishabh Dev, and Hindu deity Lord Vishnu through their "next of friends", seeking restoration of the alleged temple complex, comprising as many as 27 temples.
The ASI said that it would be contrary to the law to agree to the contention of any person claiming a fundamental right to worship in this "centrally protected" monument. It, however, said that the architectural materials and images of Hindu and Jain deities were re-used in the construction of the Qutab complex.
Stressing that the existing status of the monument cannot be altered, the ASI also said that it would be contrary to the law to agree to the contention of any person claiming a fundamental right to worship in this "centrally protected" monument.
The ASI, however, said that the architectural materials and images of Hindu and Jain deities were re-used in the construction of the Qutab complex. It said that revival of worship was not allowed wherever it was not practised at the time of protection of a monument.
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 counsel for the ASI further said that it was very clear from the Persian inscription at the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque that the cloisters were erected with carved columns and other architectural members from 27 temples.
"Inscription is clear that the mosque was built with the remains of these temples. But nowhere it is mentioned that the materials were retrieved by demolishing temples. Also, it is not clear if they were retrieved from the site or brought from outside... Not demolished but remains of temples used for construction," the ASI counsel said.
There is no provision under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act under which worship could be started at any living monument, ASI said. The petitioner's lawyer contended the claim and read Section 16 of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 which says, "A protected monument maintained by the Central Government under this Act which is a place of worship or shrine shall not be used for any purpose inconsistent with its character." "Once a deity always a deity and it has its dignity forever. It is the determination of character," he submitted.
The ASI counsel said that as per the petitioner's submissions, for 800 years the monument was in the same condition. "It is only recently that these things are coming up," he said.