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Waqf board junks ASI report

Lucknow, Oct. 8: The Central Sunni Waqf Board today termed the Ayodhya excavations by the Archaeological Survey of India “unscientific and biased” and asked the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court to reject its report.

In objections filed before the bench hearing the Ayodhya cases, the board picked holes in the ASI’s pillar theory that suggested the existence of a temple-like structure beneath the ruins of the demolished Babri Masjid.

After digging at the disputed site for over five months, the ASI had submitted its final report to the court in late August claiming that it found a huge structure with artefacts associated with north Indian temples.

“We want the court to reject the report outright,” Waqf board counsel Zafaryab Jilani said after filing the objections. According to him, the ASI report was “self-contradictory and totally unreliable”.

He said the report was categorical that the disputed site was uninhabited before the 6th century. “This clearly shows that either Ram was not born during that period or the present Ayodhya was not the place he was born.”

Rejecting the ASI’s claim that the pillar bases formed a pattern, the board branded the so-called evidence “a manipulation”. “Since neither any statue of (a) Hindu deity was recovered from the strata where… pillar bases were found, nor any of these pillar bases were attached with the original floor, the theory of their supporting a massive structure was nothing but the product of a fertile imagination,” it said.

Jilani said the board’s objections were based on a study of the report by a panel of 25 eminent historians and archaeologists. He objected to the ASI’s attempt to link the foliage, floral and geometrical designs discovered during the excavations with north Indian temples and asserted that the pieces conformed to the architecture during that period.

“The report contradicts itself on the depths at which the artefacts were found. As a result, it’s not clear whether the objects belong to the Hindu, Jain or Buddhist periods,” Jilani said.

In face of Sunni Waqf Board's objections, the Hindu groups involved in Ayodhya litigation have decided not to file any objections to the ASI report.

"The contradictions are not an issue. The court wanted to know about the structure beneath and that's been found," said Ranjana Agnihotri, counsel for Nirmohi Akhada.

Ignoring Muslim litigants' effort to get the ASI report rejected, organisations like the VHP have already accepted the report and appear all set to re-ignite the temple movement.

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