Updated March 22nd, 2024 at 15:40 IST

ASI Team Reaches Bhojshala Complex In UP For Survey , Puja And Namaz To Continue: Says Official

A team of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Friday began a survey of the controversial Bhojshala/Kamal Maula Mosque complex situated in the tribal-dominated Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh.

ASI Team Reaches Bhojshala Complex In UP For Survey , Puja, Namaz To Continue: Says Official | Image:ANI
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Dhar: A team of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Friday began a survey of the controversial Bhojshala/Kamal Maula Mosque complex situated in the tribal-dominated Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh.

The ASI team, comprising more than a dozen members, reached the complex in the morning. It was accompanied by senior local police and district administration officials.

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The ASI team worked till noon and left the spot for the day, Ashish Goyal, one of the petitioners in the matter who was present with surveyors, told reporters.

Both Hindus and Muslims consider the site a place of worship.

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Asked whether Muslims would be allowed to offer prayers at the site, Dhar Superintendent of Police (SP) Manoj Kumar Singh said ‘puja’ on Tuesdays and ‘namaz’ on Fridays will be held as per practice. The SP said he would discuss the matter with ASI officials and make adequate arrangements for the faith-related activities.

A 15-member team reached the site early in the morning to survey the Bhojshala complex, Goyal said.

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He said that members of the Hindu Front for Justice, an umbrella organisation representing petitioners like him, were also present during the survey.

“Today they did the ground-level preparations for conducting the survey. As directed by the high court, new technologies like GPS and carbon-dating equipment were used by the team,” Goyal said.

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However, eyewitnesses said that the members of the Muslim community were not present on the occasion. As per the ongoing practice, Muslim community members offered Friday namaz at the site amid heavy police presence, they said.

Earlier, SP Singh said that the survey had begun at the Bhojshala.

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“We have provided all the logistical support that the ASI team needed to conduct it. Adequate security measures were taken for the exercise and there is peace in the town,” he had told PTI.

A heavy police force has been deployed at the site, eyewitnesses said.

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Meanwhile, a Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed by the Muslim community against the HC order in the Supreme Court on the issue was listed for hearing on April 1, lawyer Shirish Dube, representing Hindu Front for Justice, told reporters. He said the SC refused to hear the matter on Friday as mentioned by their lawyers.

The survey will continue as directed by the HC, he added.

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The Madhya Pradesh High Court, on March 11, directed ASI to carry out within six weeks a 'scientific survey' of the Bhojshala complex, a medieval-era monument that Hindus believe is a temple of Goddess Vagdevi (Saraswati) and the Muslim community calls Kamal Maula Mosque.

As per an ASI order issued on April 7, 2003, Hindus are allowed to worship inside the Bhojshala complex every Tuesday, while Muslims are allowed to offer namaz at the site on Fridays.

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Speaking to reporters later, Dhar town’s ‘Shahar Qazi’ Waqar Sadiq said that no authorized member of the Muslim community was present during the survey, though Kamal Moula Mosque’s representative Abdul Samad was supposed to be there.

But it seems ASI has not given him any notice and for this the central agency is responsible, Sadiq claimed.

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Sadiq said ASI reports of 1902 and 1903 are in its records and the first report on the site mentioned that “this is a mosque”.

“A petition was again filed in the high court in 1998 by Vimal Kumar Godha on behalf of the Bajrang Dal and other Hindu bodies. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister then. A reply was filed that time that it was ‘Kamal Moula Mosque’ and the existence of Bhojshala was a mystery,” he said.

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This reply is in the records of the high court and ASI cannot go back on its stand on the issue, he said.

About the SC not taking up their matter after being mentioned, he said dates keep moving back and forth and the community will get a hearing.

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Sadiq said they have documents to show that namaz can be offered at the site five times a day, but they have restrained themselves in the interest of “peace and harmony”.

Stressing that there is no dispute with the Hindus, he said, “Only 13-14 persons, who are the self-pr oclaimed leaders of the community, are creating problems. Now we think that we have to insist on starting namaz five times a day at the site. We will move the high court and the supreme court on this,” he said.

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Whatever was present during the survey of 1902 must be there even today. “If anything new is found then ASI would disclose it with full transparency,” he said.

Namaz will be held at the site as per practice for progress and peace in the country, he said.

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Sadiq said their community leaders, including representatives of the Kamal Maula Mosque, will meet soon to take a call on the matter. 

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Published March 22nd, 2024 at 15:39 IST