‘Bhoomi pujan’ for Ram temple part of BJP’s political agenda

Shaheen Nazar

New Delhi: The stone-laying ceremony (bhoomi pujan) for a Ram temple at Ayodhya on August 5 is going to be graced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Public broadcaster Doordarshan will telecast live the much-publicised event that will see the laying of the foundation for a grand temple on a piece of land where once stood Babri Masjid.

Shri Ram Janmbhoomi Teerth Kshetra, the Trust constituted as per the judgment of the Supreme Court last November to oversee the temple construction, on Saturday declared through Twitter: “The day PM @narendramodi ji will be in Ayodhya to inaugurate the construction of Shri Ram Janmbhaoomi Mandir, it will be the most historic moment in the history of independent India.”

Vishwa Hindu Parishad, an offshoot of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, of which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is a political front, also tweeted on Saturday, saying the Prime Minister would be in Ayodhya on August 5 and would be “worshipping with revered saints, scholars, trustees and other dignitaries for the grand Janmabhoomi temple of Bhagwan Shri Ram”.

But those who fought the case on behalf of Muslims, the Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) and the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), say the upcoming August 5 event is not a religious ceremony. “This ceremony is not for constructing a temple. Its main aim is to polarise society along communal lines keeping in mind Assembly elections in states like Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh,” said Advocate Zafaryab Jilani, BMAC convener.

Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas, Co-Convener of AIMPLB’s Babri Masjid Committee, said, “It’s fulfillment of the political agenda of the BJP. Its leaders have been working on this agenda since 1986 when Babri Masjid was unlocked through a court order.”

Talking to Clarion India, both the leaders maintained that they fought the case to the best of their ability. “We were not satisfied with the judgment of the five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi of November 9, 2019. But we accepted it because it came from the highest court in our country. Ulema (religious scholars) had committed themselves to go by the court ruling. So, we took it as Allah’s will,” said Jilani. But he added, “We would not be able to forget the injustice meted out to us.”

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Jilani said the apex court rejected the review petition even without hearing. “It is within their rights. Again, we have no option but to accept their decision.”

Ilyas was of the view that the RSS was behind everything that was happening at Ayodhya, adding that it was controlling all temple-related activities through Modi. “RSS is not a religious organisation. But to fulfill its fascist agenda it is trying to control Hindus through Ram Temple. Hindus don’t have a rallying point. Through a temple in Ayodhya, they want to create a Makkah for Hindus,” he said.

As for the response of Muslims to the Ayodhya issue, Ilyas, who also heads Welfare Party of India, a political outfit, said so far there was no discussion in the community on how to counter the BJP on this issue. “But one thing is for sure. Despite BJP giving it a religious colour, we view it as a political challenge.”

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Ilyas and Jilani both saw a “victory” in the Supreme Court judgment that handed over the 2.77 acres land on which once Babri mosque stood and ordered the government to compensate Muslims with five acres of land at a different place in Ayodhya.

“The Supreme Court said in no uncertain words that no temple was demolished to build the mosque. It also did not say that it was the place where Ram was born. For us, it is a matter of great satisfaction,” said Jilani who is also one of the lawyers who pleaded on behalf of Muslims, first at Allahabad High Court and later in the apex court.

Ilyas said the Supreme Court judgment exposed the BJP-RSS propaganda that Muslim rulers demolished some 3,000 to 30,000 temples to erect mosques and shrines. “The court established the fact that the Babri mosque was built on a barren land; that from 1885 to 1949, Muslims have been offering regular prayers; that the idol of Ram was placed in the mosque illegally and unconstitutionally; that the 1992 act of demolishing was also illegal and unconstitutional,” he said.

Ilyas maintained that the entire judgment was in favour of Muslims, but strangely, the judges concluded that the land should go to Hindus.

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