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Contesting parties to witness
excavation work in Ayodhya
Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow | March 12, 2003 03:12 IST
The Archaeological Survey of India had identified and cordoned off three spots at the disputed site in Ayodhya and was all set to commence excavation on Wednesday till the high court applied the brakes.
Acting on a petition by the Sunni Central Wakf Board, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad HC directed the ASI to carry out a fresh survey of the site in the presence of the contesting parties or their counsels or nominees.
During the day, confusion prevailed for some time as representatives of the Sunni Central Waqf Board and the Babri Masjid Action Committee raised objection to the ASI team's failure to inform them about its arrival in Ayodhya.
"As per the directions of the court, the ASI should have apprised us of their plans to undertake excavations so that one of our representatives could be present at the site. But the ASI did so only after we lodged a complaint with the high court," Zafaryab Jilani, counsel for the Waqf board, said.
Jilani, who is also the BMAC convenor, said, "I have grave suspicion that the ASI is working under the influence of the Union Human Resources Development Minister [Murli Manohar Joshi], whose bias is an open secret because of his deep involvement with the temple movement."
Jilani said he would reach Ayodhya on Wednesday morning to witness the excavation. "We will depute our other representatives to keep constant tab on the digging work," he said.
"Digging at these spots will begin at 10am on Wednesday and more spots may be added over the next few days," Faizabad Divisional Commissioner R M Srivastava told rediff.com over phone.
The timing was decided following a communiqué from the high court, he said.
The court also directed that the material unearthed during the excavation should be sealed and presented before it, he said.
The three spots have been covered from all sides -- tents on top and screens on the sides. "This was done to prevent any kind of disturbance to the experts and the digging team," Srivastava said.
"The manner in which the screens have been put will disallow any view even to the devotees visiting the makeshift temple," he added.
The excavation, ordered by a Lucknow bench of the Allahabad HC, is expected to determine whether a temple existed at the disputed site before the Babri mosque was built.
Meanwhile, the state government and ASI officials discussed the modalities of the excavation at a meeting on Tuesday.
ASI Joint Director General R S Bisht, who attended the meeting, later returned to Delhi. In his absence, his colleague M R Mani will take charge of the 14-member ASI team.
The Ayodhya Issue: The Complete Coverage