Govt body wants Ganesha idols out of Qutub complex

THE NATIONAL Monuments Authority (NMA) has asked the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to retrieve two Ganesha idols from the Qutub Minar complex where the Authority’s chairman says the “placement of the idols is disrespectful” —and move them to the National Museum, The Indian Express has learnt.

In a written communication sent to ASI late last month, the NMA is learnt to have conveyed that the idols should be given a “respectable” place at the National Museum, where there is a provision for such antiquities to be displayed. Both NMA and ASI operate under the Union Ministry of Culture.

ASI officials were not available for comment. NMA chief Tarun Vijay, who is a BJP leader and former Rajya Sabha MP, confirmed that the letter was sent. “I visited the site several times and realised that the placement of the idols is disrespectful. They come near the feet of the mosque visitors,” he said.

The NMA was set up in 2011 for the protection and preservation of monuments and sites, and areas surrounding it.

“After Independence, we removed the statues of British kings and queens from India Gate, and changed the names of roads to erase marks of colonialism. Now we should work to reverse the cultural genocide that Hindus faced at the hands of Mughal rulers,” Vijay said.

The two idols are called “Ulta Ganesh” and “Ganesha in cage”, and are located in the compound of the 12th century monument, which was designated as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1993.

The “Ulta Ganesh” (upside down) is part of the south-facing wall of the Quwwat Ul Islam mosque in the complex. The other idol, enclosed in an iron cage, is close to the ground level and is part of the same mosque.

“These idols were taken, apart from those of Jain Tirthankaras and Yamuna, Dashavatar, Navagrahas, after demolishing 27 Jain and Hindu temples built by King Anangpal Tomar… The way these idols have been placed is a mark of contempt for India, and needs correction,” Vijay said.

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