May 10, 2021
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Imaginative Histories

Imaginative Histories

Writing in the Telegraph, Swapan Dasgupta recounts what has been discussed in our rants & raves pages, based on the TOI reports some days back on the judgment of Justice Sudhir Agarwal, viz the testimony of historians Shireen Moosvi, Suraj Bhan, Suvira Jaiswal and Sushil Shrivastava:

In her deposition as an expert for the Waqf Board, the Aligarh historian, Shireen Moosvi, suggested that “the legend of Ayodhya being the birthplace of Rama is found from the 17th century, prior to which there is no legend about Rama’s birthplace in medieval history”. However, during cross-examination, Moosvi also admitted: “It is correct that in Sikh literature there is a tradition that Guru Nanak had visited Ayodhya, had darshan of Ram janmasthan and had bathed in the River Saryu.”

....In her deposition as an expert in ancient history, Suvira Jaiswal made an important clarification: “I am giving statement on oath regarding Babri Mosque without any probe and not on the basis of my knowledge; rather I am giving the statement on the basis of my opinion.”

Once the ASI excavations confirmed that the Babri Masjid wasn’t built on virgin land, “impartial” history turned to imaginative history. It was suggested by Bhan that what lay beneath the mosque was an “Islamic structure of the Sultanate period”. Mandal went one better, suggesting that after the Gupta period “this archaeological site became desolate for a long time”. The reason: floods. Supriya Verma contested the “Hindu” character of recovered artefacts from the Kushan, Shunga and Gupta periods — something even Bhan and Mandal had admitted to. These, she said, “could well have been part of palaces, Buddhist structure, Jain structure, Islamic structure [sic]”. There were also suggestions, never proven or pressed, that the ASI had falsified and suppressed data.

More in the Telegraph

More on which the above is based, the judgement of Justice Sudhir Agarwal,:

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