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Since 1st March, 1999
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A green tile and 3 carved stones

Ayodhya, April 5: Eight artefacts, including a green tile, three carved stones, a few terracotta pieces and some broken bangles, were dug up by Archaeological Survey of India excavators from the disputed site today amid worries about the weather.

“Apart from indications of a staircase and a stone pedestal, there has been no discovery till now which could prove decisive. But we expect tangible results as the team goes further down,” said Ranjit Verma, counsel for Nirmohi Akhada.

Verma, among the 12 litigants and their nominees present at the site during the day’s work, debunked the Buddhist claim that the discovery of a stone with a lotus engraved on it two days ago indicated the existence of a Buddhist shrine at the spot.

“The artefacts discovered so far cannot lead to any conclusion, and now everybody is interpreting things on the basis of incomplete facts and information,” he added.

While the warring parties said that the preliminary results — the excavation had started on March 12 — supported their respective claims, the ASI team was worried about protecting the trenches from water-logging if it rained heavily.

After yesterday’s hailstorm and rain, the ASI has asked the government to provide waterproof tents. “This is important since we are likely to ask the high court to extend the one-month time-limit fixed to complete the job and the work may go on till the rainy season,” said a member of the team.

The ASI had asked the court for two more months to complete excavation and another 15 days to submit the report at the last hearing, but its request was rejected as “premature”. It is expected to repeat its request when it submits its second progress report to the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court on April 7.

The district magistrate has heeded the ASI request and started erecting waterproof tents to prevent water from flooding the trenches dug up by the excavators. “By tomorrow we hope to cover the entire area so that rainwater does not affect the ongoing digging,” a senior official said.

The relics dug up every day are being kept in a secure place after being photographed and there was no danger of the weather damaging them, he added.

While ordering the ASI to excavate the site on March 5, the high court had given specific instructions that the site should be covered. The administration had covered the entire work area with tents and tarpaulin screens, but the officials had not expected untimely rains.

After rain lashed Ayodhya yesterday, they immediately ordered that the ordinary tents be replaced by waterproof ones requisitioned from Lucknow.

The material reached Ayodhya today and the officials ordered workers to replace the existing tents tonight itself so that excavation is not impeded tomorrow.

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