New Delhi: Moments after archaeologist KK Muhammed’s name figured in the list of Padma Shri awardees, congratulatory messages poured in, lauding him for “speaking the truth”.
The “truth” being referred to here is Muhammed’s belief that the Babri Masjid site was originally home to a temple.
JNU faculty member Anand Rangananthan tweeted saying, “When Muhammed was told he was going to be suspended for making public the fact that he had discovered temple remnants inside Babri, he replied, in Sanskrit ‘Lokasamgramevapi Sampasyan Kartumarhasi. Swadharme nidhanam shreya’ - I spoke the truth. Death is preferable while on duty’.”
Popular among the Indic thinkers, this Left-bashing archaeologist usually addresses the crowd at Indic gatherings with “deep jyoti, param jyoti, deep jyoti janardana… deep jyoti namastotay.”
Born in Calicut, Kerala, Muhammed attended the government higher secondary school in Koduvally. He goes where his belief in Ram Janmabhoomi takes him, sometimes quoting poet and philosopher Allama Iqbal when the latter called Lord Ram ‘Imam-e-Hind’. He also cites examples of Muslim-majority South East Asian countries where Lord Ram is popular and “worshipped”.
Muhammed has worked with archaeologist BB Lal, former director-general of the Archeological Survey of India who led the excavation team that first claimed to have unearthed the remnants of a Hindu temple at the Babri Masjid site in 1976-77.
In his lectures, Muhammed bashes the Left for not believing in the presence of Ram Temple in Ayodhya. “An archaeologist speaks on the basis of verifiable things. At the time of Ayodhya excavations, I was part of the group. There was evidence of the presence of Ram, but the Left made a hue and cry,” he said in one of the gatherings.
While endorsing the concept of Ram Janmabhoomi, he clarified that he is neither religious nor Leftist in his archaeological pursuits. “On one hand, there are religious people who say ‘thousands of years ago…’ But as an archaeologist, I cannot go with that. On the other hand, there are Leftists who think Ram Janmabhoomi is cock-and-bull story, but as an archaeologist, I know there is a kernel of truth in it,” he said.
In his opinion, the Ayodhya issue needs to be “saved” from those who think Taj Mahal is Shiv Mandir. He believes that “Muslims should hand over Ayodhya to Hindus as they have Mecca and Medina”.
In 2016, he released his autobiography titled Njan Enna Bharatiyan (I an Indian) in Malayalam, and has written about his experiences as regional director (North) of Archaeological Survey of India. In the book, he has claimed that remains of a Hindu temple were found during the excavation by the BB Lal-led team.
Muhammed retired from the ASI in 2012, and took up an assignment as the director of Aga Khan Trust Project in Hyderabad.