Hindutva leaders on Sunday asked the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre to enact a legislation for the construction of a Ram temple in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya town and said their patience was wearing thin because of delays on the matter.
They were addressing a public meeting organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi to press for the temple’s construction, days before the start of the Winter Session of Parliament. According to a few estimates, more than one lakh people – among them, a large number of young men from northern states – attended the event.
“Those in power today had promised to construct Ram temple,” said Suresh “Bhaiyyaji” Joshi, the executive head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. “They should listen to people and fulfil the demand of temple in Ayodhya. They are aware of the sentiments.”
Joshi said Hindutva organisations were not begging for the Ram temple. “We are expressing our emotions,” he added. “The country wants ‘Ram rajya’.”
Hindutva leader Rithambhara said the patience of Hindus was wearing thin and building a temple was the only way to utilise the BJP’s majority in Parliament. “Should there not be a Ram temple in his land of birth? Should Ram continue to live in a makeshift temple?” she asked. The crowd responded with a loud “no”. As soon as her speech was over, crowd started chanting “Jai Shree Ram”.
Religious leader Hansdayal Maharaj said if Parliament and Supreme Court do not resolve the dispute soon, devotees of Ram will march towards Ayodhya and start constructing the temple.
“We did not need permission to demolish Babri, we won’t need permission to build temple,” he added. “The fight has reached its last stage. If temple construction doesn’t begin by Ram Navami, Ram devotees should prepare themselves to march towards Ayodhya.”
A number of religious leaders who addressed the gathering said an ordinance cannot be introduced in the upcoming Parliament session and asked the government to bring in a bill instead. “We can’t wait for the Supreme Court’s decision forever,” said Sadashiv Maharaj. “The Supreme Court is not the highest authority of the land, it is the people. And people want Ram Temple.”
They criticised the Supreme Court and accused its judges of colluding with the Congress and delaying the temple’s construction. Some of the speakers urged the crowd to be prepared to take matters into their hands if the construction does not begin before Ram Navami next year.
This congregation was the closest to the buildup in 1992, when Hindutva actvivists demolished the Babri Masjid, sparking communal violence across the country. Several people at the venue asked this correspondent not to write anything against the meeting. Two of them even wanted to go through his notes.
The organisers placed loudspeakers outside Muslim-dominated localities near the venue. The speeches included repeated references to Mughal emperor Babur, invasions, Muslims and cow slaughter and chants of “Jai Shri Ram”, leaving people visibly upset.
The police cordoned off the entire area and shopkeepers were asked to close their stores to avoid confrontations. “Imagine if Muslims would have held a similar congregation here in Ramlila and openly spoke against Hindus,” said a person, who urged the police to allow him to cross the street.
Here are a few photographs from the event:
The demands of the Hindutva outfits gathered steam after the Supreme Court on October 29 adjourned the Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid land dispute case to January. The court is hearing a batch of petitions challenging a 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict that ordered a three-way division of the land in Ayodhya on which the mosque stood before Hindutva activists demolished it on December 6, 1992. The High Court divided the land – on which Hindutva leaders want to build the temple – equally between the Nirmohi Akhara, the Sunni Wakf Board and the representative for the deity Ram Lalla, or the infant Ram.