India Rights & Wrongs
June 17, 2003
8, Vithalbhai Patel House, Rafi Marg
Telephone- 3711276/ 3351424
The Archaeological Survey of India's excavations at the site of the
Babri Masjid, Ayodhya are now drawing to a close , though the
ASI has sought the High Court's permission to continue the work till
the end of this month, apparently to enable them to excavate two or
three trenches in the so-called " Sanctuary" where the Ram Lalla
image is now placed. By this time the ASI has dug up and destroyed
what the karsevaks had not demolished, namely the floors and
foundation-walls of the Masjid. In any archaeological operation
elsewhere such treatment of monumental remains would be deemed
totally unprofessional and impermissible.
All this has been done in the expectation, enflamed by the earlier
Tojo-Vikas International's geo-physical survey report ( undated), on
the basis of which the Allahabad High Court ( Lucknow Bench) was
pleased to order the excavation. This Report spoke of "anomalies"
and " pillars" below the Babri masjid, and so suggested that
structural remains would be found beneath the mosque. It may be
recalled that SAHMAT issued a statement on 8 March doubting the
credentials of this Company , questioning its surveying methods and
finally its interpretation of its data. SAHMAT pointed out that the
Company itself provided for a wide range of possibilities from its
data, but selected for specific mention only such of these as might
please their employers. It was, on the face of it, a thoroughly
unprofessional piece of conduct on their part.
In pursuit of Tojo-International's predicted pre-Masjid structures
the ASI dug up 82 trenches by 5 June 2003. Except for a small area
around Ram Lalla the entire area of the Masjid Complex including Ram
Chabutra has been dug up to depths of several meters. The ASI
submitted its first progress report to the High Court on work done
till 24 April 2003 when as many as 52 trenches ( 4x4 meters each)
had been excavated. SAHMAT in its statement on 6 May, showing that
the only structural remains the ASI had actually found were those
associated with the construction of
the Mosque or of the period of Muslim habitation. The pervasive
presence of animal bones with cut marks and
Muslim glazed ware, and the entire absence of even a trace of
anything that could indicate structural remains of a temple. The ASI
report seemed only to clutch at straws, which on close scrutiny
could be seen as contrary to the details it had itself provided.
Matters have become definitively clear with the ASI's latest
progress report that deals with the latest period, 22 May to 5 June,
covering 30 new trenches, so that now the entire Mosque complex and
much of the surrounding area has been covered.
In trench after trench, no structural remains below the Mosque's
floor level have been found at all. The structural remains found in
some trenches are all of construction associated with the Mosque,
viz., brick walls, Mosque-floors, lime mortar, etc. The " structural
bases", which were mentioned with some enthusiasm in the first
Progress Report, but were, alas, found to be uniformly of brick-bats
and so neither load-bearing nor in any way associated with
any known tradition of Hindu temple architecture, are now termed "
pillar bases". Only seven have been claimed to be found in six
trenches , only out of the thirty excavated. No alignment or
uniformity of level is claimed for them.
The ASI's report also lists finds yielded by the excavation. It
needs to be noted that in trench F3, the " 1.61 metre high decorated
black stone pillar (broken) with Yaksha figurines on four corners"
is one of the black pillars which had belonged to the Babri Masjid
and was broken up when the Babri Masjid was destroyed by the
karsevaks. It has been retrieved from above the Babri Masjid floor,
and is, therefore, no new discovery and has nothing to do with any
possible temple remains below the Mosque. On the other hand, all
other finds suggest either Muslim habitation ( "
Arabic inscription of holy verses", glazed tiles) or ordinary
In view of all this, the VHP and its supporters are now falling back
on " faith". But they are unable to produce any scriptural authority
or any document to show that Lord Rama was really born exactly at
this spot. In other words, the " faith" they are talking about is
only faith invented by them.
Others, of the BJP camp faced with the debacle that the excavations
have placed them are speaking of a " compromise". The conditions of
this " compromise", so far appearing in the press, are that (1)
Muslims can build a Mosque 10 k.m. away from the Babri Masjid site,
and (2) the Hindu claims on Mosques at Varanasi and Mathura will not
One does not understand whom these proposals are expected to fool.
The present main mosque at Ayodhya is itself barely 1 ½ km from the
Babri Masjid site, and there are other mosques in the town. Any one
who owns land can build a mosque at any distance from the mosque :
so what is the sense of the 10 km restriction?.
Secondly, any change in the religious status of a place of worship
from what it was on 15 August 1947 is barred by an Act of
Parliament, 1991. What the proposed compromise suggests is that this
too is an open issue, which it is not.
Finally, what is forgotten is the heinous crime carried out on 6
December 1992. No talk of compromise has any meaning when the
perpetrators of that outrage walk not only free, but are in control
of the state itself. They must, above all, be first brought to book.
Addressing a packed press conference Prof. Prabhat Patnaik
introduced the distinguished panel of historians (Profs. Irfan
Habib and K.M. Shrimali) and archeologists (Prof. Suraj Bhan,
Supriya Verma, Nadeem Rizvi and Jaya Menon) who had come to discuss
the on-going excavations at the site of the Babri Masjid complex.
Prof. Patnaik referred to the two `alternative' strategies being
talked about by the government - the `negotiated settlement' and the
`legislative solution'. Both in his view are unconstitutional and
would lay down dangerous precedents that violate the rule of law.
Prof. Irfan Habib emphasized that the excavation order to `find out
whether a temple existed or not' was
unscientifically formulated. The on-going excavation reflects this
basic weakness. Archeological finds are not being documented or
evaluated rigorously. He asserted that the excavation, by the
demolition of the entire Babri Masjid complex, has `completed' the
process of demolition which was started by the kar sevaks with the
demolition of the mosque in 1992. The excavation has shown that the
so-called `pillar-bases' and other anomalies referred to by the
Tojo-Vikas team that led to the order to excavate proved unfounded
as nothing of significance was found in the areas indicated by them.
What are being called pillar bases today are brick-bats that are
neither load-bearing nor in any way associated with the tradition of
temple architecture. The broken pillar pieces found are those of the
demolished masjid and have been found in its debris. Further small
animal bones with cut marks and muslim glazed ware suggest
habitation by a meat-eating population. The presence of graves,
which unfortunately are not being measured, the skeletal posture
noted, or documented, makes it an unlikely site for a temple. Taking
of the negotiated settlement and the stipulation that a mosque maybe
constructed outside of a ten km radius from the original site, Prof.
Habib pointed out that the nearest main mosque is only
one-and-a-half kms from the Babri masjid site. The
mendacious `restrictions' on mosques being proposed violate
constitutional provisions and existing parliamentary legislation
concerning the protection of places of worship. Prof. Suraj Bhan
pointed out that computer generated
graphics of the site that have been pusblished in sections of the
media were doctored, incomplete and misleading. He stressed that
finding a temple is not a matter of finding some antiquities of
indefinite age and context. A temple is a structure and there is no
evidence of such a structure in the excavations. Three levels of
flooring have been excavated between which filling containing
material only from Mauryan and Kushan periods is found. All three
levels are mosque floors, (plastered with chunaum and surkhi), the
upper two being of the Babri Masjid and the lowest one of an earlier
smaller mosque, probably of the sultanate period, on which the Babri
masjid was built.
As far as the inscribed slab being talked about is concerned, Prof.
Suraj Bhan, who like all the other archeologists at the conference,
has visited the excavation site and examined the materials and their
locations, said that he observed it to be "lying upside down along
with kankar stones in a deep filling in the pit. The pit seems to
have been filled at the time of the renovation of the Babri in the
The enclosed Press release was issued.