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Chhattisgarh: Eminent archaeologist and Padma Shri awardee Arun Kumar Sharma dies at 91

Sharma had collected archaeological evidence in support of the existence of Lord Ram's temple at the disputed site of Ayodhya.
Last Updated 29 February 2024, 14:12 IST

Raipur: Renowned archaeologist and Padma Shri awardee, Arun Kumar Sharma, who had served as the archaeological advisor to the Chhattisgarh government and was one of the key witnesses in the Ram Janmabhoomi case, died here on Thursday at the age of 91, his family members said.

He passed away in the wee hours at his residence in state capital Raipur, his son Manish Sharma said.

Sharma had collected archaeological evidence in support of the existence of Lord Ram's temple at the disputed site of Ayodhya. The evidence collected by him was accepted by first the Allahabad High Court and then by the Supreme Court during hearings on the disputed site in Ayodhya, he said.

A native of Chhattisgarh's Rajnandgaon district, Sharma had joined service with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in 1959 and after serving in various capacities, he retired as the superintending archaeologist in 1992, his son said.

Sharma, while serving in Chhattisgarh, was involved in excavations at several places like Sirpur, Tarighat, Sirkatti, Arang, Tala, Malhar and the findings helped in the revelation of the history of these places, he said.

He assisted ASI even after his retirement in excavation at archaeological sites Sirpur (Chhattisgarh) and Mansar (Maharashtra), he said. During his career with the ASI, he excavated sites throughout India, particularly in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Jammu, Maharashtra, Lakshadweep, Himachal Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and published reports about them.

He published 35 books on archaeology, he added. "Arun Sharma was a key witness in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi Ayodhya case while it was under trial in the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court. He proved to the satisfaction of the court that there was a Lord Ram temple there and the mosque was built after demolishing the temple," he said.

In 2016, Sharma along with his team re-established Lord Ganesh idol on Dholkal mountain in Dantewada district of Bastar region within a week after it was dismantled, he said.

He was appointed as the archaeological advisor to the state government in 2004 and remained active till 2017-18. He was awarded with the prestigious Padma Shri award in 2017, his son said.

Condoling his death, Chief Minister Vishnu Deo Sai said the contribution of Dr Arun Sharma in the field of archaeology will always be remembered.

"Dr Sharma ji made an important contribution in archaeological survey and excavation not only in Chhattisgarh, but at various sites across the country. He played a crucial role in the excavation work in Sirpur and Rajim in Chhattisgarh," Sai said.

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(Published 29 February 2024, 14:12 IST)

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