I Stand Vindicated: Archaeologist KK Muhammed speaks on Ayodhya verdict
Shri KK Muhammed was perhaps the first archaeologist who dared to speak the truth that the disputed structure in Ayodhya was built over the remnants of a pre-existenting temple. As a student of the Institute of Archaeology, Delhi, he was part of the first excavation in Ayodhya, carried out by a team of the ASI led by Prof BB Lal. Against the backdrop of the historic verdict of Supreme Court on the Ayodhya issue, KK Muhammed speaks to Organiser. Excerpts:

The long-waited judgement on the Ayodhya issue has come finally. How do you view it?

The judgement is very well-balanced and perfect which cannot be further improved upon. The verdict is capable of resolving all the issues forever. Hence, we all are responsible to accept the verdict. Barring a minuscule minority of troublemakers, the entire counry, by and large, has accepted the judgement of the honourable Supreme Court. Be it Hindu or Muslim community, the verdict was indeed a relief for all.

You were the first archaeologist to speak out in support of Ayodhya and explained the truth to the public. How do you feel when the apex court finally upheld the ASI report?

Today I stand vindicated. The Honourable Supreme Court has admitted that the archaeological evidence produced by the ASI were correct and confirmed the presence of a pre-existenting structure underneath the disputed structure. I had said it openly 30 years ago. I participated in the excavations in 1976-77. 14 years after having participated in the excavation, I made a public statement in this regard that the disputed structure was built on the remains of the Ram Temple. Now I am satisfied because I could make people aware of the archaeological findings when many experts hesitated to come out in public. I consider it a personal victory.

How does the Muslim community view the Supreme Court verdict?

I was in Bihar ten days before the verdict came.
After the Urdu media reported my interview that Muslims must hand over the Ayodhya land to the Hindus, several Muslims called on me and shared the same opinion. Most of them were of the opinion that the disputed land be handed over to the Hindus and settle the issue amicably. They all are very happy with the judgement and some of them even contacted me after the verdict.

You were haunted for the last two decades for speaking the truth. How do you recall the Leftists’ attacks and their campaign to malign you?

The Leftists aggravated the Ayodhya issue and escalated it. I was subjected to incessant attacks for more than two decades for revealing the truth. They launched a scathing attack on me on the eve of the Supreme Court judgement. Recently, the Aligarh Muslim University Old Students Association Kerala had planned to honour me, as a Padma Shri awardee. But the organisers had to step back after a group started a slanderous campaign against me, threatening them to drop their plan.
Following the incident, Madhyamam, the Malayalam mouthpiece of radical Islamist outfit Jamaat-e-Islami, published a series of fake reports against me, alleging that I was not part of the excavation team. Later, the former Director-General of ASI, Prof BB Lal, in a report published in Times of India, confirmed my participation during the excavation. But the Islamist newspaper stooped so low and misquoted the words of BB Lal published in ToI and misreported against me. They went on to use crude language against me. The court verdict is in fact a tight slap in the face of such elements, as the court valued the archeological findings more than any other piece of evidence.

A grand temple is going to be built in Ayodhya. What are your suggestions as an archaeologist?

Finally, the verdict has come. Now we have enough time to build the temple. As an archaeologist, I would suggest to re-excavate the surroundings as there is a possibility to find more valuable remnants of the pre-existent temple. We have new technologies, which allow preserving the remnants of the pre-existent temple as it is (in glass chambers or something like that) so that the people can see them even after a new temple is built. Such possibilities can be explored.

The Uttar Pradesh Shia Waqf Board Chairman had appealed to the Muslims to hand over all disputed lands similar to Ayodhya, to the Hindus. What is your take on this?

The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 does not allow anyone to reclaim a place of worship. But Ayodhya was exempted in the act. The 1991 Act prohibits conversion of any place of worship and imposes an obligation to maintain the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on August 15, 1947. So I think we must stick on the law and build a new peaceful and developed Bharat.