K.K. Mohammed, the archaeologist who made some important findings regarding the Ram Janmabhoomi temple has said that the “Muslims should hand over Gyanvapi and Shahi Idgah mosques to Hindus”.
His strong and forceful views supporting the existence of a Ram temple under the demolished disputed structure in Ayodhya was discussed widely. He has also negated the anti-Ram temple theories.
Mohammed, who retired as the Regional Director of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), is credited with several key archaeological findings, including the discovery of the Ibadat Khana, a complex built by Mughal emperor Akbar for hosting religious debates and discussions among theologians and scholars of various religions.
Excerpts from an IANS interview with K.K. Mohammed:
IANS: You were a team member of the excavations at the Ram Janmabhoomi/ Babri Masjid in 1976. What were your findings?
Mohammed: The team was headed by Professor B.B. Lal and I were part of it. We could find several pillars that had inscriptions resembling with Hindu temples. Even in the walls of the building there were several depictions of Hindu gods and goddesses that were defaced in many places. We could also find terracotta statues of animals, females, warriors and several such materials.
IANS: In 1976 during the excavations you must have been quite young. How come you became a part of this team in a crucial excavation?
Mohammed: I was then a student of Post Graduate Diploma at the ASI’s college of Archaeology after a Postgraduation in History from Aligarh Muslim University with a rank. One of our team members was Jaisree Ramanathan, wife of the senior Congress leader, Jairam Ramesh. I was involved in the excavation of Trench B.
IANS: There are reports that Dr. B.B. Lal, who headed the team, did not want to publicise the findings as it would have created a major friction. Your comment.
Mohammed: Yes it was true. Prof Lal never wanted to publicise the findings but we had documented them properly. He did not publicise it as it would have created a lot of friction in the society and Prof Lal never wanted such an issue to snowball. However, the Communist Historians — I underline the word Historians, led by Prof Irfan Habib — came out with press statements that Dr Lal and his team did not find anything from the excavations.
It was then that Prof Lal was forced to respond and the findings were brought out in the public. In fact Prof Irfan Habib was not an archaeologist and only a historian and he had distorted ideas that led to a major polarisation among the people.
IANS: However, the crucial evidence was received after the Masjid was demolished in 1992 and not during the excavation your team undertook in 1976. Your comments?
Mohammed: Yes there was a 12th century Vishnuharishila inscription that was there under the structure. Critics had earlier stated that it was an 18th century inscription but they backed out later. In the inscription it was clearly written about the Mahavishnu who had killed Bali and also killed the man with ten heads. This means Lord Ram and hence it is clear as to who the place belonged to.
IANS: You had mentioned in several interviews earlier that this would have been settled much earlier and that Muslim community was willing for a temple to be constructed there.
Mohammed: It is true. The Muslim community of Ayodhya was only 6 per cent and they were willing to hand over the property to the temple trust. One of the leading Islamic scholars of Lucknow, Abdul Hassan Ali Nadvi who was widely respected globally, had taken the initiative but the communist historians, including Prof Irfan Habib, played spoilsport and created confusion and later this led to a major agitation and polarised the Hindus and Muslims.
IANS: Don’t you feel that the Muslim community of the country feel dejected and lost due to this?
Mohammed: No never. Babar was a king and his soldiers led by his commander Mir Bakshi had destroyed and demolished the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi temple. A Muslim king had destroyed a temple that Hindus revered for ages and the Hindu community of the country is pained and dejected. For the Muslims this Masjid was never important.
IANS: Are Muslims of this generation responsible in any way for some thing that happened in the medieval period?
Mohammed: No, they are not responsible but they should not be defending the Muslim invaders who destroyed the temple. The Christians are not defending what the Portuguese did in Goa.
IANS: Do you support constructing a temple after demolishing a Masjid?
Mohammed: As an archaeologist I never support demolishing any structure that is of historical and archaeological importance.
IANS: When the masjid was demolished in 1992, what were your feelings?
Mohammed: I was shaken at this and so were all of us in the Archaeology and friends circle. Senior IAS officer, N. Mahadevan had then said that we should not do wrong to correct a historical mistake that happened centuries ago.
IANS: Now there are demands for the Gyanvyapi and Mathura. Your comments
Mohammed: Handing over Gyanvapi and Mathura to Hindus is the only lasting solution to this issue. All the religious leadership should in unison hand over these structures to the Hindu community. Kashi, Mathura and Ayodhya are very important for Hindus as they depict Lord Shiva, Lord Krishna and Lord Shri Ram. There are no emotions attached to Muslims for these mosques.
IANS: Suppose Kashi Gyanvapi and Mathura are handed over to Hindus, then there would be claims by VHP/RSS for 20,000 disputed buildings. Your comment?
Mohammed: If such claims are made then there are no answers. There are several Jain and Buddhist structures that are converted to Hindu temples in Kerala. You may however note that there were several Hindus who stood with the Muslims in the Ram Janmabhoomi, Babri Masjid issue. Have Muslims stood with Hindus if we think the opposite.
IANS: As a person who was a part of the excavation team and one who had relentlessly stated that it was a Ram temple, are you happy now?
Mohammed: Indeed I am happy as a professional archaeologist and that a majestic temple for Lord Ram has come up in Ayodhya.
IANS: You are a Muslim and yet you are saying that you are happy at the temple coming up?
Mohammed: An archaeologist is not a Hindu or a Muslim. I am a professional archaeologist and I am professionally very happy that several years of excavations and scientific findings have given a correct result and a grand temple is coming up. I am happy about this.
IANS: You are living in Kozhikode, Kerala and there have been several threats to your life. Is it the same today?
Mohammed: Yes, I have faced several threats and these days I am confined to my home in Kozhikode. The Popular Front of India was very active in my home town till it was banned and I am living a life of threat ever since I honestly spoke about my findings.
IANS: Have you got an invite for the Prana Pratishtha function at the Ram Temple on January 22?
Mohammed: Yes, I have received the invitation but I am not going for the function as I am physically unwell due to certain ailments. Hence I am not attending.
(The story has been published via a syndicated feed with a modified headline.)