The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Alarm on digging up trouble

New Delhi, March 8: Expressing concern over Allahabad High Court’s decision to order an excavation at the site of the destroyed Babri Masjid, a group of archaeologists, historians and lawyers today described the move as “pernicious” and said it would set a “dangerous precedent”.

“First, we destroyed a monument for no reason, and now we are trying to find a justification for the act,” Irfan Habib, eminent medieval historian, told a news conference here today.

Habib raised doubts about the professional ethics and intentions of Tojo-Vikas International Private Limited, the company that has been asked to assist in the excavation. “This kind of excavation is not archaeological excavation but simple barbarism. The company has no proper antecedents to carry out excavation,” he said.

Reading out a statement of Tojo-Vikas, Suraj Bhan, a noted archaeologist from Kurukshetra University, said: “The anxiety to bring out ‘pillars’ comes out in this statement of the Tojo-Vikas company.” The statement read: “Some of these anomalies… may correspond to pillars’ alignment, broken-up sections of wall foundations or fortuitous patterns of independent objects or natural features.”

“They (the company) are not impartial,” Habib said. “Why should they first think of pillars unless they have B.B. Lal’s suggestion in mind.” Archaeologist Lal had certified the existence of pillars at the disputed site after carrying out excavations. The Archaeological Survey of India, too, came in for criticism. “The Archaeological Survey of India has not had a professional director-general to head it in the last 10 years,” an academic said.

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