Rajasthan assembly speaker demands ASI survey in Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra - Hindustan Times
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Rajasthan assembly speaker demands ASI survey in Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra

May 11, 2024 06:21 PM IST

The demand comes amid claims by a delegation of Jain monks that a Sanskrit school and a temple had once existed at the site of the historic Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra in Ajmer

Rajasthan assembly speaker Vasudev Devnani on Saturday demanded an Archeological Survey of India (ASI) survey at the historic Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra in Ajmer, amid claims by a delegation of Jain monks that a Sanskrit school and a temple had once existed at the site.

Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra is an ASI-protected monument located nearly 500 metres away from the Ajmer Sharif Dargah. (File)
Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra is an ASI-protected monument located nearly 500 metres away from the Ajmer Sharif Dargah. (File)

“An ASI survey should immediately be done at Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra to find out whether the Jain delegates’ claim is true. I will write to the chief minister to conduct this survey as soon as possible. It’s a subject to research whether it was occupied and converted into a mosque. The necessary action can be taken after that,” said Devnani, who is also the MLA from Ajmer North.

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The development comes days after a delegation of Jain monks, accompanied by members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), visited the historic monument on May 7.

“A Sanskrit school used to be there at the historical Adhai Din ka Jhonpra. It seemed that it started being called Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra and was converted into a mosque due to the Mughal influence. They might have also changed the early structure of the place, but a slew of symbols is still there,” Jain monk Sunil Sagar, who led the delegation to the monument, said.

“We have also found similar idols and many other old structures in Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra that indicate the presence of a Jain temple as well on the premises. But everything is gone now, and only a mosque is visible,” he added, asserting that “things should be returned to those it belonged to historically”.

Joining the call for a survey at the site, BJP leader and Ajmer deputy mayor Neeraj Jain said: “We all visited the place and found out that the mosque was built illegally by miscreants after destroying a Sanskrit school. We have also found thousands of symbols of our ancient Indian culture. We will soon take necessary action to recover our old culture.”

Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra, located nearly 500 metres away from the Ajmer Sharif Dargah, is an ASI-protected monument.

According to the ASI website, the mosque was built by the first Sultan of Delhi, Qutub-ud-Din-Aibak, in 1199 AD.

“It is contemporary to the other one built at Qutub-Minar complex of Delhi known as Quwal-ul-Islam mosque (power of Islam). Sultan Iltutmish had subsequently beautified it in AD 1213 with a screen pierced by corbelled engrailed arches which appears in this country for the first time,” it said.

It added: “However, a large number of architectural members and sculptures of temples are lying inside the verandah of the complex for safety and security purposes by the department which shows the existence of a Hindu temple in its vicinity during circa 11th-12th Century AD. This mosque, built from the dismantled remains of temples, is known as Adhai-din-ka-Jhonpra possibly from the fact that a fair used to be held here for two and a half days.”

Ajmer Dargah Anjuman Committee’s secretary Syed Sarwar Chishti, however, termed the Jain monks’ visit “highly wrong”.

“It’s highly wrong how these people entered the mosque without following any etiquette and started claiming our holy place as a Sanskrit school without any proper evidence. How could they even enter the premises without wearing any clothes? I have notified the matter to the local police inspector, and he said that the visit was not permitted,” Chishti is heard saying in an audio clip. HT could not independently verify the veracity of the clip.

Reacting to Chishti’s remarks, Devnani said that the Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra is an ASI site, and therefore, anybody can visit the place. “It doesn’t belong to any specific community. Anybody including the Jain monks and Hindus can visit there whenever they want. It’s for everyone. Rather, Chishti should apologise to the Jain delegates for his comment,” he said.

The row comes amid similar claims by right-wing outfits that the Ajmer Sharif Dargah used to be a Hindu temple.

On May 27, 2022, the president of right-wing outfit Maharana Pratap Sena, Rajyavardhan Singh Parmar, wrote a letter to the then chief minister Ashok Gehlot claiming that the entire Ajmer Sharif Dargah used to be an ancient Hindu temple. “The dargah of Khwaja Gareeb Nawaj was an ancient Hindu temple earlier. The symbols of Swastik are there on the walls and windows. We demand that ASI should conduct a survey of the dargah,” he said in the letter.

In a letter to chief minister Bhajan Lal Sharma on January 27 this year, Parmar sought an ASI survey at the Dargah in line with “the survey of Ayodhya’s Babri Masjid and Varanasi’s Gyanvapi Masjid”.

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