ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Was There a Temple under the Babri Masjid? Reading the Archaeological 'Evidence'

As witnesses to a major part of the excavations carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India at the Ram janmabhoomi-Babri masjid site in Ayodhya in 2003, the authors detail the many irregularities and outdated methods they observed. They also refer to the objections they filed regarding some of the procedures followed by the asi, as well as the objections to its Final Report on the excavations. In several ways, it was obvious that the asi was operating with a preconceived notion of discovering the remains of a temple beneath the demolished mosque, even selectively altering the evidence to suit its hypothesis. The authors stress that there is little doubt that the kind of archaeology practised by the statist asi, where archaeologists see themselves primarily as bureaucrats, suffers from a serious absence of academic engagement and training.

What began primarily as a title suit in the Ram janmabhoomi-Babri masjid case in 1961, with Muslim organisations arguing that their entitlement was the only valid one as the Babri masjid had stood there since 1528, became amplified in 1989. In that year, one of the issues that were framed was whether the Babri masjid had been constructed after demolishing a Hindu temple. It was because of this issue that the disciplines of history and archaeology were brought within the ambit of the legal case.

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