MP High Court allows ASI survey at ‘disputed’ Bhojshala complex in Dhar district

Madhya Pradesh High Court on Monday allowed a survey led by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) at the disputed monument of Bhojshala in the adjoining Dhar district which it claimed to be a temple of Goddess Vagdevi.

Hindu group seeks ‘scientific survey’

Earlier, on February 19, a Hindu organization approached the Madhya Pradesh High Court seeking a direction to the ASI to conduct a time-bound “scientific investigation” of the disputed monument of Bhojshala in the adjoining Dhar district which it claimed to be a temple of Goddess Vagdevi.

The ASI, a central government agency, told an Indore bench of the HC that it had no objection to the plea for a scientific investigation/survey of the premises, while the Muslim side opposed the petition.

Bhojshala is an ASI-protected monument, which Hindus believe is a temple of Goddess Vagdevi (Saraswati), while the Muslim community treats it as Kamal Maula Mosque. According to an ASI order issued on April 7, 2003, Hindus are allowed to worship inside the Bhojshala complex every Tuesday, while Muslims are allowed to offer namaz at the site every Friday.

The bench of Justices Sushrut Arvind Dharmadhikari and Devnarayan Mishra, after hearing the arguments of all parties concerned, reserved its order on the plea filed by a social organisation, ‘Hindu Front for Justice’ (HFJ), and sought synopsis of a separate case pending in the HC’s principal bench at Jabalpur.

In the plea, the Hindu Front for Justice said the ASI director should be asked to conduct a scientific investigation/survey/excavation/ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey of the nearly 1,000-year-old Bhojshala complex in a time-bound manner and submit a report to the court.

In support of its claim that Bhojshala is a Saraswati temple, the Hindu side has submitted a bunch of colour photographs of the complex before the High Court.

Challenging the ASI’s nearly 21-year-old order allowing Hindus and Muslims to access the site on different days (Tuesday and Friday, respectively), the outfit told the court the decree was issued without scientific examination of the Bhojshala premises and as per rules and regulations, ‘namaz’ cannot be allowed to be offered inside a temple.

During arguments in the HC, the ASI said it had assessed the condition of the Bhojshala complex in 1902 and 1903, and had no objection to the present plea seeking scientific investigation of the premises.

On behalf of the society, it was submitted that a writ appeal on the Bhojshala dispute is already pending before the principal bench of the High Court at Jabalpur and the ASI’s order dated April 7, 2003, was still legally in existence.

The HC said a synopsis of the case pending in the principal bench in Jabalpur regarding the Bhojshala issue should be presented before it as soon as possible.

The demand for scientific investigation of Bhojshala has surfaced at a time when a Varanasi court, early this month, ruled that a Hindu priest can perform prayers before the idols in the southern cellar of the Gyanvapi mosque in the holy city in Uttar Pradesh.

Source: India TV

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