Yes, there is a geological feature like a collapsed canyon below the indian ocean. Yes, there is also a physical structure which has always been called a ‘bridge’ unlike the Great Barrier Reef in Australis which is always called a reef. Evidence for the bandha (which becomes ‘bund’ in English) is emphatic and runs into over 3000 pages. If this ain’t a monument of national and international importance, the Ancient Monuments Act 1958 can as well be scrapped and GOI can declare itself to be yet another ‘taliban’ demolishing Bamiyan Buddha calling it a stone. Demolishing, hurting millions of peoples’ sentiments is not the business of a state. cf. Section 295 of IPC and AIR 1958 SC (p. 1032)
I.P.C. – Section 295: �Whoever destroys, damages or defiles any place of worship, or any object held sacred by any class of persons with the intention of thereby insulting the religion of any class of persons or with the knowledge that any class of persons is likely to consider such destruction, damage or defilement as an insult to their religion, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.�
Decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Veerabadram Chettiar � vs – V. Ramaswami Naicker & Ors. reported in A.I.R. 1958 S.C. 1032 at page 1035, paragraph 7. The relevant SC observations are set out hereinbelow: :
Any object however trivial or destitute of real value in itself, if regarded as sacred by any class of persons would come within the meaning of the penal section. Nor is it absolutely necessary that the object, in order to be held sacred should have been actually worshipped. An object may be held sacred by a class of persons without being worshipped by them. It is clear, therefore, that the courts below were rather cynical in so lightly brushing aside the religious susceptibilities of that class of persons to which the complainant claims to belong. The section has been intended to respect the religious susceptibilities of persons of different religious persuasions or creeds. Courts have got to be very circumspect in such matters, and to pay due regard to the feelings and religious emotions of different classes of persons with different beliefs, irrespective of the consideration whether or not they share those beliefs, or whether they are rational or otherwise, in the opinion of the court.�
In terms of Section 2(d) of The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958, [quote] “”archaeological site and remains” means any area which contains or is reasonably believed to contain ruins or relics of historical or archaeological importance which have been in existence for not less than one hundred years…[unquote] Posted: Sat, Aug 11 2007. 4:16 AM IST (livemind.com The Wall Street Journal)
Supreme Court says ‘ancients’ may have built Adam’s Bridge
The court, however, declined to issue a stay order on ongoing work in the Sethusamudram Canal Project
Priyanka P. Narain
Mumbai: Saying the Adam’s Bridge could have been built by the “ancients”, the Supreme Court intervened on behalf of the lobby that wants to protect the coral bridge in Tamil Nadu from destruction.
Although it declined to issue a stay order on ongoing work in the Sethusamudram Canal Project, the Supreme Court asked the government to respond to all questions about the bridge’s cultural significance within a month’s time.
In the courtroom on Friday, the two-judge bench comprising of chief justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice R.V. Raveendran said questions raised by a research team at the National Institute of Ocean Technology need answering. The research document, which former president Abdul Kalam had forwarded to the court, says that the coral stones found on the bridge did not occur naturally and had been deliberately placed there. The underwater walkway bridge – made of a special floating coral rock – between Dhanushkodi, in Tamil Nadu, and Sri Lanka is being dredged as part of the Rs2,462 crore Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project. When completed, the government claims the project may shave one day off transport (by ship) between Kolkata and Mumbai ports.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the ruling United Progressive Alliance coalition have drawn battle lines in a dispute over Hindu history since the launch of the project to dredge the bridge in July 2005. According to believers, the bridge in Rameshwaram may just be the one that Ram built and Hindu activists have been lobbying to preserve it.
Attorney K.K. Venugopal, appeared before the court on behalf of those trying to save the bridge. “The research teams at National Institute of Ocean Technology have concluded that in ancient times, when water levels were much lower, it was possible for the ancients to construct this kind of a causeway,” he said.
Proclaiming the court’s instructions as a first step to victory, the VHP declared its intent to continue the andolan (protest). Venkatesh Abdeo, the Joint Secretary of VHP said, “We are not going to call off our protests against the destruction of this most ancient relic of Hindus until all work stops completely.”
The project’s official website claims it has already completed one-fifth of the project work. However, the government claims that the dredging operations conducted so far have not been close to the bridge itself. Observers say that if the government cannot respond to the court’s directive satisfactorily, then the National Monument Act can be applied to protect the Ram Sethu. That would essentially declare the bridge a national treasure and prevent any further demolition. Shipping minister T. R. Ballu, shipping secretary A.K. Mahapatra, and joint secretary Rakesh Shrivastava did not return or answer repeated calls from Mint for comment.
SC notice to Centre on Setusamudram project
10 Aug, 2007, 2120 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Centre on a petition opposing the ongoing Setusamudram project, proposed to be implemented by “destroying” ‘Rama Setu’, a mythical barrier situated south east of Rameshwaram, connecting Talaimanar coast of Sri Lanka.
A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice R V Raveendran sought Centre’s response within four weeks on the petition which contended that the century old bridge was man-made and needs to be protected under the Ancient Monument Preservation Act.
The Bench was hearing a petition filed by Swami Sri Vidyananda Bharatiji, a Dandi Monk of the Shakaracharya Order and local resident of Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu, now residing at Thirunelveli, who alleged that the project would adversely impact the environment.
Senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for the monk, said that National Institute of Ocean Technology, has been collecting the data about the setu since 1867 and there has been a opinion over the years that it could be a man-made bridge.
He said since it was a man-made structure and more than 100 years-old it was entitled for protection under the Act.
Additional Solicitor General R Mohan sought time from the Bench to file Centre’s response.
The Bench said it will hear the matter on August 31 with other related petitions including those which have been transferred to the apex court from Madras High Court.