Mughal ruler Aurangzeb had demolished a Hindu temple within the Krishna Janmabhoomi complex to construct a mosque, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) revealed in documents in reply to an RTI query on Tuesday.
Even though the response does not explicitly mention 'Krishna Janmabhoomi', it is considered a significant development in the ongoing legal battle related to the Shahi Eidgah.
"Portions of Katra mound which are not in the possession of Nazul tenants (property belonging to government) on which formerly stood a temple of Keshavdev which was dismantled and the site utilised for the mosque of Aurangzeb..." stated the ASI document.
Ajay Pratap Singh, a resident of Mainpuri, Uttar Pradesh, submitted a request for information regarding the demolition of the Keshavdev temple through the right to information petition.
In its reply, the ASI Agra circle provided historical documents from the 1920 United Provinces Gazette as evidence that the Mughal emperor had actually destroyed the Keshavdev temple at the contested location.
Advocate Singh, who is opposing the mosque, intends to present this proof in both the Allahabad High Court and the Supreme Court to strengthen the request for a survey of the Shahi Idgah Mosque.
The Allahabad High Court has set February 22 as the date for a hearing to determine the validity of a petition aiming to remove the Shahi Idgah mosque in Mathura, alleging that it has encroached upon 13.37 acres of land belonging to the Katra Keshav Deo temple. Justice Mayank Kumar Jain has directed that any objections to the petition's challenge on its validity must be filed by February 22.
In reaction to the request from the Muslim party, the Hindu party was given an extension until January 17 to submit a response.
In May of last year, the Supreme Court combined 15 lawsuits concerning the Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi-Shahi Idgah Masjid conflict. Objections have been submitted in several of the cases.
In January, the Supreme Court stopped the high court's decision that required a court-monitored examination of the Shahi Idgah complex and authorized the selection of a lawyer commissioner to oversee the inspection of the mosque grounds.
The highest court specified that the legal process in the dispute, such as deciding if the case can proceed under Order 7 Rule 11 of the CPC, will still go on in the high court.