By J.V. Lakshmana Rao
Ayodhya, one of the famous pilgrim and tourist centers in India’s Uttar Pradesh state, which has been in the news for several years for the controversy over the Ramjanma Bhoomi-Babri Masjid row between the Hindus and the Muslims, wore a festive look on August 5. But ever since the celebration took place, discontent has been brewing over the construction of the Sri Ram Temple among some people.
While Saints, Swamis, Hindu religious leaders and all Hindus in India and abroad have been celebrating the foundation-laying ceremony of the Sri Ram Temple, a section of people belonging to the Islam have begun to vent their displeasure.
The continued peace and calm of the people of India, from the day the historic “unanimous” judgment delivered by five-judge constitution bench headed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on November 9, 2019, till August 5, 2020, that led to the laying of foundation of the Sri Ram Temple by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seemed to be now being beginning to be threatened by some Muslim groups.
The five-judge verdict on the disputed title of the Ayodhya temple site has clearly stated that the Hindu parties would be given the disputed land where the Babri Masjid once stood, and the Sunni Waqf Board, the biggest Muslim litigant in the case, will be given five acres at a separate “prominent” location in Ayodhya.
The verdict further stated that a board of trustees would to be set up within three months for the construction of a temple, by the government of India. The court thus decreed the suit filed by the Ram Lalla. The bench also added that the Ram Lalla’s rights to the disputed property would be subject to the law and order and communal harmony to be maintained.
Notwithstanding the Covid-19 related restrictions faithfully followed by the organizers and invitees, the Vedic ritualistic ceremonial pomp and pageant with which the foundation stone was laid on August 5 and the celebrations held countrywide and abroad by millions of Hindu devotees, seem to have evoked some sort of “provocation” among a few Muslim groups.
Some of them, who are ignorant of the contents of the verdict, have even claimed that the Supreme Court judgment has not given the “permission” to build a temple on the disputed land.
While some others have gone to an extent of threatening to pull down the temple when it is constructed, the dissenting Muslim religious and political leaders like Asaduddin Owaisi, AIMIM chief, alleged that by laying the foundation for the Sri Ram Temple, Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of the country, has violated the oath of the office.
Owaisi said this was the day of the “defeat of democracy and secularism, and success of the Hindutva.”
He added: “The Prime Minister today (August 5) said he was emotional. But I want to say that I am also equally emotional because I believe in coexistence and equality of citizenship. Mr. Prime Minister, I am emotional because a mosque stood there for 450 years.”
The hatred also found traces of roots in the communal disturbance that broke out in New Delhi when US President Donald Trump was on a visit to India during February 24/25. Now the probe reports are stated to have revealed that the architects of the destruction also received financial support from various sources for creating problems in Ayodhya.
Lately, the Bengal associations of imams have urged the Muslims to end affiliations to RSS, VHP and other right-wing organizations to “save their families.”
In a latest statement, chairman of the Bengal Imams Associations Mohammed Yahiya says the BJP’s stand at present, was “anti-Islam and anti-Muslim.”
Yahiya says: “Recently, the foundation stone was laid to construct a temple on the site that once hosted a mosque. So, it is clear that BJP and RSS are not friends of Muslims. A Muslim will not remain a Muslim if he remains with someone who is against Islam. The Muslims, who are members of RSS, VHP and its affiliated organizations, need to think about their positions. They have to decide whether they want to remain with the BJP-RSS combine or rectify their mistakes. They must remember that in the days to come their families will not be spared.”
Siddiqullah Chowdhury, Bengal’s Minister of State with independent charge for Mass Education Extension and Library Services, has also spoken against the construction of the Sri Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
However, the Sri Ram Temple project has received the support of general secretary of Congress Party Priyanka Gandhi.
In a statement a day ahead of the stone-laying ceremony, Priyanka Gandhi has hoped, “With the blessings of Lord Ram and Goddess Sita, the bhoomi puja ceremony can become the foundation for national unity, brotherhood and cultural congregation.”
In her statement, Priyanka Gandhi has further added, “Simplicity, courage, restraint, sacrifice and commitment are the essence of the name Deenbandhu Rama. Ram is within everyone, Ram is with everyone.”
The statement marks volte-face in the Congress Party’s strategy that otherwise towed the so-called secular line and didn’t want to openly identify with the Hindutva beliefs.
This is perhaps the first time in decades that a member of the Gandhi family has voiced open support and devotion to Lord Sri Ram.
By J.V. Lakshmana Rao