The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Tirtha Kshetra Trust on Thursday claimed to have found several antiques of religious importance at the site in the town where Hindu devotees believe the deity Ram was born.
The items were found on the 10th day of the exercise to level the ground and remove a gangway before the construction of a Ram Temple begins.
According to the office-bearers of the VHP and the Trust, the antiques — broken statues of deities, a kalash (urn) and a five-foot Shivling with carvings on it — are similar to those discovered by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) during an excavation carried out in 2003 on the orders of the Allahabad High Court.
“For the last 10 days we have started the work of leveling the ground. Buried inside the debris of the structure [Babri Masjid] we have found seven black touchstone pillars, other than that we have found several parts made of sandstone. Going deeper, we have found a Shivling, which is around 4 feet 11 inch tall and has a circumference of 42 inches. A similar Shivling has been found at the Kuber Quila. We are releasing the photos,” said VHP International General Secretary Champat Rai, who is also the General Secretary of the Trust.
According to a statement issued by the saffron organisation, the “leveling of the land and removal of gangway for the construction of the upcoming Ram Temple at the Ram Janambhoomi ground” started on May 11 after the District Magistrate granted permission.
“In addition to the antiques found during the earlier digging on the order of the High Court, during the leveling of ground till date we have found several things including antiques and broken statues of deities, flowers made of stone, kalash, Aamlak, Doorjamb, stones of Mehrab, seven black touchstone pillars, six red sandstone pillars, five-feet Shivling with carvings on it. The work of leveling is still going on,” said the VHP.
The work is going on under a high security cover and no one, including the media, is allowed to go near the site or take photographs of the findings. On Thursday evening, 25 to 30 policemen manned the second checkpost, which is around 300 metres from the Garbhagriha or sanctum sanctorum, where the makeshift Ram temple used to exist.
When asked, the district authorities said the media had been asked to use the photographs provided by the VHP and the temple trust.
The saffron outfits said three JCB machines, one crane, two tractors and 10 labourers were carrying out the levelling work while following social-distancing and other lockdown norms.
Earlier in the day, asked if the ASI would be involved this time too, VHP national spokesperson Vinod Bansal told The Indian Express the government agency would not be needed as the legal dispute over the plot of land was over. He also said those questioning the findings do not understand the whole truth about Ayodhya and the Ram Mandir case.
“However, if the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Tirtha Kshetra Trust wants to get an expert opinion on the significance of the things being found, they may call archeological experts. But nothing is decided yet as the process of leveling is still going on…The antiques are being found across the entire 67-acre land,” said Bansal.
Dr Anil Mishra, a member of the Trust, concurred with VHP leader.
Mahant Rajkumar Das of Ayodhya Ram Vallabh Kunj claimed that the antiques had been found exactly where the garbhagriha was. The ASI had excavated either side of the spot, but not the exact place, he added.
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