ASI official may draw flak for writing to RSS head

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Bhopal, Nov 8 (UNI) In an unusual but successful attempt to save roughly 1,300-year-old temples in Madhya Pradesh's Chambal region, an Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) official posted here has written to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Sarsanghchalak K S Sudarshan.

''My sole objective is to protect about 150 shrines,'' said ASI Bhopal Circle's Superintending Archaeologist K K Muhammed who might face action for writing the letter urging a halt to unauthorised quarrying at Morena district's Bateshwar and surrounding areas.

The letter was sent on October 15 to the Nagpur-based RSS headquarters after repeated urging allegedly elicited no action from the collector, police superintendent and state Mineral Resources Minister Lakshmikant Sharma.

''The excavation stopped in a couple of days after the letter. If the Centre takes action, I am ready even for it. After banditry declined in Bateshwar and its surroundings, illegal quarrying spiralled over the past year,'' Mr Muhammed told UNI while not denying the possibility of involvement of people linked with political parties.

White marble-like stone found in the area is of export quality.

For a year, the official was ''constantly endeavouring'' to halt quarrying and efforts of the then tourism minister Yashodhara Raje Scindia led to limited success.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has written to Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni objecting -- in a manner of speaking -- to Mr Muhammed's letter. Subsequently, the Delhi-based ASI Directorate questioned Mr Muhammed regarding the letter.

The official's reply, sent four days back, said that his sole objective was to conserve the temples and that would continue to be the case.

''Once I even urged the area's bandits to conserve the shrines and that attempt proved rather helpful,'' Mr Muhammed claimed.

UNI

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