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Ram Setu row: Soni briefs Sonia

Culture Minister Ambika Soni seeks a personal explanation from the ASI chief for her role in the affidavit issue.

india Updated: Sep 15, 2007 17:46 IST

Faced with a major controversy over the Ram Setu affidavit, the Centre has sought a personal explanation from the ASI chief on her role in the filing of the document in the apex court as Culture Minister Ambika Soni on Saturday met Congress president Sonia Gandhi over the issue.

Soni, who returned from her visit to Japan on Friday, met Gandhi and is understood to have briefed her about the inquiry into the matter.

The minister had a brief ten-minute meeting with the Congress President and did not talk to the waiting mediapersons. Having ordered suspension of two senior officials of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Friday, the Ministry has sought a personal explanation from the Director General of ASI Anshu Vaish to explain her role in the filing of the affidavit, official sources said.

Vaish has to give her reply to Culture Secretary Badal K Das by Tuesday. The two senior officials, Chandrashekhar, Director (Administration), and V Bakshi, Assistant Director (Monuments), were found to be responsible for not carrying out the corrections in the affidavit as directed by the Culture Ministry, the sources said.

The Ministry had asked Bakshi to delete the objectionable lines in the affidavit, while Chandrashekhar was coordinating between the Ministry and the Additional Solicitor General on the affidavit, they said.

The suspensions were carried out following an inquiry by the ASI DG. The inquiry was ordered by the Secretary of Culture Ministry and the action against the two ASI officials was taken on the basis of its report submitted by Vaish on Friday.

The ASI affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, which said that there was no historical or scientific proof about the existence of Lord Ram or Ram Setu as a man-made bridge, had set off a huge political storm with the BJP attacking the government, accusing it of hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus. It was withdrawn on Friday.

First Published: Sep 15, 2007 13:10 IST