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Delhi court asks ASI to maintain status quo on Ganesh idols in Qutub Minar complex

The National Monuments Authority (NMA) had asked the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to retrieve two Ganesha idols from the Qutub Minar complex where the Authority’s chairman says the “placement of the idols is disrespectful” and move them to the National Museum.

Written by Anand Mohan J | New Delhi |
Updated: April 18, 2022 5:51:23 pm
ASI, ASI delhi, Ganesh Idols from Qutub Minar, Qutub complex ganesh idol, delhi news, Indian expressTourist at Qutub Minar at New Delhi on Wednesday. (Express Photo by Amit Mehra)

A Delhi court has asked the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to maintain status quo as it observed that it cannot lose sight of the appellants who filed a suit asking it to restrain the ASI from retrieving two Ganesha idols from the Qutub Minar complex.

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The Indian Express had reported that the National Monuments Authority (NMA) had asked the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to retrieve two Ganesha idols from the Qutub Minar complex where the Authority’s chairman says the “placement of the idols is disrespectful” and move them to the National Museum.

The suit was filed by principal deity Lord Rishabh Dev asking the court to restrain the ASI from removing the idol of Ganesh and to place the idol with “due respect at a respectable place within property involved in the suit.”

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Additional District Judge Nikhil Chopra at the Saket court said that he was of the opinion that the concern of the appellant cannot be lost sight of. The court has asked the respondents to maintain status quo till the next date of hearing when the arguments on the maintainability of the application will also be heard.

“The court is of the opinion that the concern of the appellant cannot be lost sight of. Although it is impressed by the respondents/ASI that they do not contemplate the removal of the idols at this stage, Counsel for the respondents/ASI has candidly stated that he has no directions as to whether there is any possibility of relocation of idols in near future,” the court said.

The suit filed by advocate Hari Shankar Jain also appealed to the court to restrain the ASI from removing the idol and placing it in the National Museum or any other property.

The suit stated that it is a matter of national shame that Lord Ganapati, who is worshipped by crores of Hindus, was lying within property in suit in a “very pitiable condition hurting the sentiments of crores of devotees of Lord Ganesh.”

The suit stated that it is the duty of the ASI director to maintain all deities and idols with due respect keeping in view the religious sentiments of Hindus.

“The ASI have no power or jurisdiction to send the idol of Lord Ganesh outside the area of property in suit as suggested by Chairman, NMI,” the suit read.

The appellants told the court that “every pratima of God and Goddess is suit property and the same cannot be removed from the property in dispute and cannot be said anywhere else as the object of worship cannot be removed by ASI from the property in question.”

The two idols are called ‘Ulta Ganesh’ and ‘Ganesha in cage’, and are located in the compound of the 12th-century monument, which was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993.

The ‘Ulta Ganesh’ (upside down) is part of the south-facing wall of the Quwwat Ul Islam mosque in the complex. The other idol, enclosed in an iron cage, is close to the ground level and is part of the same mosque.

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