Waquar Hasan | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI — KK Muhammed, former regional director, North Archeological Survey of India (AS), is one of the leading voices seeking the erection of a Ram Temple at the site where the Babri Masjid once stood. He has been advocating the cause of the temple after claiming that he was part of the excavation carried out by the ASI’s BB Lal team in the 1976-77 period, and that the remains of the temple were found underneath.
“I was a member of the excavation team and the only Muslim who had participated in the excavation,” was how Muhammed spoke to The Times of India. But Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi, chairman of department of history, Aligarh Muslim University, said Muhammed was never a member of the team.
“For the last 10-12 years, KK Muhammed has been saying he was a member of the ASI official team under BB Lal. Fact is, he was a student at Aligarh Muslim University during the period. His attendance is registered here. The excavations went on for three to four years. He was a student at AMU in the beginning and later became a teacher here. I have seen all his files. There is no ‘leave’ marked against his name in the AMU records,” Rezavi told Caravan Daily, while expressing his doubts over Muhammed’s claim.
Rezavi had raised this point in a report published in The Times of India. This, according to Rezavi, forced Muhammed to later clarify that he took part in the excavation as a trainee student. Rezavi asked, “If you are taking part as trainee in an activity, will you be considered as part of the official team?”
“KK Muhammed was never a part of the team. He may have visited there for a few days as a trainee student of a diploma course. If you watch some of his earlier interviews, he said he went there as a student. Anyone can visit a place. If you did so as a student, what authority do you have to talk about it,” Rezavi asked.
Meanwhile, BB Lal said Muhammed was with him at the excavation site, but did not make clear whether Muhammed was with him as a member of the official team or just as a visitor. “It is a fact that KK Muhammed was there with me when I was excavating the Ram Janambhoomi area,” the 98-year-old Lal was quoted by the TOI as saying.
Rezavi wanted to know that, if so, why did Lal not mention the name of Muhammed in the report? Also, Lal spoke about Muhammed’s presence in the team after 30 years, and at a time he is suffering from dementia.
Another member of the team, Ramakant Chaturvedi, who retired as director of the Municipal Museum at Gwalior in 2007, said Muhammed had participated in the excavation at Ayodhya in 1976-77 as a trainee.
“My basic challenge is, with all authority as chairman of the Department of History at AMU, that not a single day did KK Muhammed go to the actual excavation site. He may have visited there as a student. We often took our students for study tour. A study tour does not mean a participant has become an authority on the subject,” Rezavi concluded.