The Archaeological Survey of India made the clarification while responding to an RTI query filed by Hyderabad-based activist Robin Zaccheus.

A landscape image of Charminar in the old city of Hyderabad.Image courtesy: Charan Teja
news History Friday, June 24, 2022 - 16:40

The Hyderabad circle of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), a government agency operating under the Union Ministry of Culture, has clarified that there is no evidence of ancient mosques having been built on Hindu religious sites under its jurisdiction. The ASI's statement came as a response to a Right to Information (RTI) query filed by Hyderabad-based activist Robin Zaccheus.

In his application, Robin had asked if the ASI had any historical evidence pertaining to ancient mosques in India built on Hindu religious sites, besides seeking “details of all such ancient mosques in Telangana in which Hindu religious temples were existing”.

The crucial RTI response/reply copy, which was shared by Robin, was undersigned by the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of the ASI Hyderabad Circle. “None of the monuments/sites under the jurisdiction of the Archaeological Survey of India, Hyderabad Circle in Telangana State have any evidence of ancient mosques built on Hindu religious sites,” the response said. The ASI's clarification serves as an official counter to several Hindu rightwing organisations, which have often used the ‘mosques built over temples’ argument for communal polarisation. 

Of late, the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has been trying to position itself as an alternative to the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) led by Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) in Telangana, has been consistently raking up communal issues in the state. BJP State President Bandi Sanjay, Nizamabad MP Arvind Dharmapuri and Goshamahal MLA Raja Singh have been some of the usual suspects in terms of communal rabble-rousing. 

Bandi Sanjay, while participating in a 'Hindu Ekta Yatra' (procession for Hindu unity) in Karimnagar as part of Hanuman Jayanthi celebrations recently in May, had called for mosques across the state to be dug up because they were built on Hindu temples. “I am challenging (Hyderabad MP Asaduddin) Owaisi and all other secularists… Let’s dig up mosques in Telangana and see. If we dig up and see that there are dead bodies, then you, Muslims and secularists, can take it, but if there is a shiva linga, then you hand it over to us,” he had said.

In a seeming dig at the Telangana BJP chief, Robin said in a tweet on Thursday, June 23, that there was no need to dig up the Mosques in Hyderabad, Telangana, attaching the copy of the ASI’s RTI response stating that there is no evidence of ancient mosques being constructed on Hindu religious sites.

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