Nepal's archaeological department plans to start studies and excavation in Thori in the country's south after Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli's claim that it is the "real birthplace" of Lord Ram, according to a media report on Thursday.
Several top Nepalese political leaders from different parties have slammed Oli for making "senseless and irrelevant" remarks that Lord Ram was born in Thori near Birgunj and the real Ayodhya lies in Nepal. They have asked him to withdraw his controversial statement.
Following Oli’s remarks, the Department of Archaeology (DoA) has been discussing a possible archeological study in the area with different ministries, My Republica newspaper reported.
"The department has been holding several meetings with different ministries to discuss the possibility of starting archaeological studies in Thori of Birgunj," it quoted Ram Bahadur Kunwar, the spokesperson for the DOA, as saying.
DoA Director General Damodar Gautam said the department is serious about conducting archaeological studies in Thori after Prime Minister Oli's statement.
"The department will discuss with experts and will come to a conclusion soon," said Gautam.
However, the DoA doesn’t have any basis to start any excavation at Thori - the birthplace of Lord Ram, as claimed by Oli.
"It is our responsibility to carry out a study after such statements by the prime minister. Having said that, I cannot say that we have enough bases to prove that Ayodhya is in Nepal," according to Gautam.
In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday clarified that the remarks made by Prime Minister Oli “are not linked to any political subject and have no intention at all to hurt the feelings and sentiments of anyone.”
It further stressed that his remarks "were not meant to debase the significance of Ayodhya and the cultural value it bears."
"As there have been several myths and references about Shri Ram and the places associated with him, the Prime Minister was simply highlighting the importance of further studies and research of the vast cultural geography the Ramayana represents to obtain facts about Shri Ram, Ramayana and the various places linked to this rich civilisation," the ministry said.
The clarification came after much public outcry in India and Nepal over Prime Minister Oli's controversial remarks on Ayodhya.
BJP national spokesperson Bizay Sonkar Shastri condemned Oli's remarks and said that the Left parties even in India played with people's faith, and the Communists in Nepal will be rejected by the masses in the same way they have been here.
"Lord Ram is a matter of faith for us, and people will not allow anybody, be it prime minister of Nepal or anyone, to play with this," he said on Monday.
Opposition Nepali Congress has strongly condemned Oli's controversial statements on Ayodhya and said that he has "lost the moral and political basis" to rule the country.
The party also sought the official stand of the ruling Communist Party of Nepal (NCP) and the government on the Prime Minister’s remarks on Ayodhya.
Oli is already facing strong opposition from his own party leaders who are pressing for his resignation over his autocratic style of functioning and previous anti-India statement.