After a long-drawn controversy over the alleged presence of Hindu deity idols in the locked basement rooms of the Taj Mahal, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has finally settled the debate with a single-line answer to an Right to Information (RTI) query.
On June 3, a legal notice was sent to the Centre and the ASI by a group of petitioners seeking the relocation of idols of Hindu deities, which they claim are buried under the staircase of an Agra mosque. The notice sent by the petitioners in the Shahi Idgah Masjid-Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi dispute suit said that the movement of the public on the staircase should be stopped immediately.
Trinamool Congress (TMC) spokesperson Saket Gokhale had sought information from the ASI about the monument’s history. Answering the RTI query of TMC leader Saket Gokhale seeking proof that there was no temple on Taj Mahal land and there were no idols in the 20 locked basement rooms under the Taj Mahal, the ASI has clearly said that there are no idols of Hindu gods and goddesses in the basement of the Taj Mahal, nor was the Taj Mahal built on temple land.
The Central Public Relations officer Mahesh Chand Meena replied to this query in one line. He had written only ‘No’ in answer to the first question. In response to the second question, it was written that there is no idol of any deity in the cellars.
Agra Tourist Welfare Chamber President Prahlad Agarwal expressed hope after the reply of the ASI no new religious dispute will be raised regarding the Taj Mahal. He said that due to such disputes, tourism suffers a lot.
“Already, tourism has suffered greatly due to Covid-19 for two years. And in such a situation, constantly raising such disputes not only harms the Taj Mahal but also the image of Agra and the entire country, which should be avoided,” Prahlad Agarwal added.