A senior Indian Police Service officer in Uttar Pradesh has landed in a controversy for taking a pledge for the “early construction of the Ram temple” at an event in the Lucknow University on January 28.

“We Ram-devotees pledge during this event that the temple will be built as soon as possible,” Surya Kumar Shukla, a 1982 batch officer, and many others said at an event organised by the Akhil Bharatiya Samagra Vichar Manch.

The Uttar Pradesh Home Department has asked Shukla for an explanation. He admitted to participating in the event and taking the pledge, but told the Hindustan Times that his words were misinterpreted. “It was an intellectual gathering where people from Hindu and Muslim communities were present. The Muslims there favoured peaceful and early solution of the problem,” he claimed.

Shukla said the Muslim attendees had suggested that the Ram temple should be built on the Ram Janmabhoomi site, and a mosque a little way away. He claimed that other attendees welcomed this suggestion.

The IPS officer took the pledge after an unidentified speaker exhorted the Hindu community to support the Ram temple agitation. “It is a shame that there is no Ram temple despite the fact that 100 crore Hindus live in India. It is also a matter of shame if you are waiting for the Supreme Court verdict,” the speaker said.