Reacting to reports that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) would conduct an excavation at the Qutub Minar complex, Union Culture Minister GK Reddy on Sunday, 22 May, denied that any such direction had been issued, reported news agency ANI.
Commenting on the reports, Reddy said, "No such decision has been taken."
According to India Today, Culture Secretary Govind Mohan, along with three historians, four ASI officers and researchers, had visited the monument in Delhi on Saturday, leading to reports that the ASI had been tasked to conduct excavations to unearth the origin of the Qutub Minar.
The Indian Express quoted ministry officials as saying that the visit was a regular one and that no decision has been taken with regard to excavation at the monument.
The report also said that ASI has been tasked with conducting an iconography of the idols at Qutub Minar and providing information on the many Hindu and Jain idols in the complex with the use of signboards.
What Are the Claims About the Monument?
This comes after ASI’s ex-regional director Dharamveer Sharma claimed that the monument had actually been built by Hindu emperor Chandragupta Vikramaditya and not by Qutb al-Din Aibak.
Earlier in May, several Hindu groups raised a demand that the Qutub Minar be renamed 'Vishnu Stambh.'
Bhagwan Goyal, the international working president of the United Hindu Front (UHF) made a historically unverified statement saying that the minaret was built by the "great king Vikramaditya," but that Mughal ruler Qutub-ud-din Aibak "claimed credit for it."
Goyal also said that several Hindu idols were present inside the monument complex, out of which many were broken. He added that this was proof that the demolition of a temple took place there.
These claims are in contrast to Delhi Tourism's description of the monument – "Qutab Minar is a soaring, 73 m-high tower of victory, built in 1193 by Qutab-ud-din Aibak immediately after the defeat of Delhi's last Hindu kingdom. The tower has five distinct storeys, each marked by a projecting balcony and tapers from a 15 m diameter at the base to just 2.5 m at the top."
(With inputs from ANI, The Indian Express and India Today.)