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Expert for temple town

Calcutta, March 16: The excavation at the disputed site in Ayodhya where the Babri Masjid once stood has generated considerable interest among government officials here.

The superintendent of the department of archaeology, Amal Roy, left for the temple town yesterday on a 10-day leave.

“Though I am going to Ayodhya as a student of ancient history, I have been asked to submit a report to the government on my return,” Roy told The Telegraph. He will stay in Ayodhya till the excavation, which started on March 12, is completed.

Sources in the archaeology department said today Roy was sent to Ayodhya following a nod from chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

“Everybody is keen to know about the outcome of the excavation and Roy has gone there as an observer for a first-hand knowledge of whether there are structural remains,” said Gautam Sengupta, the director of archaeology.

The director, however, dismissed the notion that the excavation would be of consequence. This “invocation of the past” is being carried out under an Allahabad High Court order, he said. “In a multi-cultural country like India, we should learn to live peacefully taking into count our diversities.”

An official of the department of culture said the trip would help Roy learn something “new”. “We should not be left behind when such an important excavation is going on,” he added.

Roy, who took over as superintendent of the archaeology department in 1995 after a five-year stint in Orissa, said he was going to Ayodhya following an invitation from a team of experts, including Irfan Habib, Suraj Bhan and R.C. Thakran.

“It’s a great pleasure to be associated with the historical giants who are on the spot to know if there are any structural remains at the disputed site,” Roy said.

Police firing in Malda

Police fired several rounds tonight to disperse warring groups at Nihalpur village under Chanchol police station in Malda, reports our correspondent.

The clash followed a stabbing incident on Friday. Several houses were torched during the violence. Senior police officers, including district superintendent of police Pankaj Dutta, rushed to the village with reinforcements. Prohibitory orders under section 144 of the IPC have been clamped.

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