According to reports, the ASI has been directed to conduct excavations at Qutub Minar to determine if the structure was built by Qutubuddin Aibak or Chandragupta Vikramaditya.
Union Culture Minister GK Reddy stated Thursday that no such decision has been made, refuting multiple media claims that excavation could take place in Delhi’s landmark Qutub Minar complex. The Ministry of Culture had already provided instructions to have idol iconography done in the complex, and excavation may begin at a distance of 15 metres from the mosque to the south of Qutub Minar. They stated that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) would begin excavations and report to the Culture Ministry. Later Minister Reddy confirmed that no such decisions were taken.
Rumors were that the ASI has been ordered to conduct excavations to determine whether Qutub was built by Qutubuddin Aibak or Chandragupta Vikramaditya after Culture Secretary Govind Mohan visited the monument on Saturday. The Ministry insists that it was a regular site visit by its officials, and no such decision has been made so far.
Last month, a Delhi court ordered the ASI not to remove two Lord Ganesha images from the Qutub Minar complex until further orders were issued.
The order was issued in response to a suit filed by advocate Hari Shankar Jain on behalf of Jain deity Tirthankar Lord Rishabh Dev, who claimed that Qutubdin Aibak, a general in Mohamad Gauri’s army, partially demolished 27 temples and raised the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque inside the complex by reusing the material.
Mr Jain added that there had been two idols of Lord Ganesha on the property since time immemorial and that he expected the ASI to remove them as mere artefacts to one of the National Museums.
Vishnu Shankar Jain also filed a case in Delhi’s Saket court, seeking the reinstallation of Hindu deity idols in the compound as well as the right to pray at the site. On May 24, the case will be heard. The court had requested both the Centre and ASI file replies in the case.
Earlier this month, 44 members of two right-wing organisations were imprisoned after reciting the Hanuman Chalisa in front of the Qutub Minar complex and demanding that it be renamed “Vishnu Stambh.” According to the police, they were momentarily held because they were hindering traffic in the vicinity.
Vinod Bansal, a spokesperson for the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), recently stated that Qutub Minar was actually “Vishnu Stambh.” He stated that the monument was constructed using materials obtained after demolishing 27 Hindu and Jain temples.