ON THE 23rd anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition in Ayodhya on Sunday, UP MoS (Forest) Tej Narain Pandey pledged to “protect the honour of Muslims till my last breath”. Barely three kilometres away, chief of Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas Mahant Nritya Gopal Das vowed to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and revive the Ram Temple movement.
The day passed peacefully with Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) observing Yaum-e-Gham (Day of Sorrow) while VHP celebrated Shaurya Divas. While most shops opened, a few Muslim establishments remained closed in Ayodhya-Faizabad. While ample security arrangements had been made, people were not being frisked. Police had a minor altercation with the workers of Indian Union Muslim League who tried to take out a rally but were stopped.
At the BMAC function, organised barely two kilometres away from the disputed land, Pandey said: “Till my last breath I will fight for your honour and defeat communal forces. Mulayam Singh always stood with Muslims, be it in Maliana, Muzaffarnagar or Gujarat.”
He added that Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was following in his father’s (Mulayam) footsteps. “Till we are here, we will not allow BJP, RSS, VHP to spoil the atmosphere,” he said.
At the function, Additional Advocate General Zafaryab Jilani opposed statements of a few Muslims who gave a call for unity. “Leave this subject. Muslims will never unite. Secular Hindus are supporting us. Almost all our lawyers in the case are Hindus. Mulayam and Akhilesh have also helped us,” he said.
Defending the SP government on Muzaffarnagar riots, he said: “In Muzaffarnagar, the victims received compensation and government jobs which is unprecedented.”
Jilani cautioned Muslims against responding to controversial statements by RSS leaders. “They want a reaction so that there is a polarisation of votes in their favour. We should not react,” he said. He said RSS had “failed” in Dadri as Muslims did not react.
At VHP’s Shaurya Diwas in Karsevakpuram, pictures of VHP’s former president Late Ashok Singhal and Mahant Ramchandra Paramhans were on stage.
Chief of Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas Nritya Gopal Das vowed to revive the temple movement. “We did anushthan (proceed) once and the structure was demolished. Now we need to perform anushthan again. We need to raise our voice so that it reaches the heart of court and ears of government,” he said.
He also defended PM Modi over his “silence on the temple issue”. “The time is not appropriate. The country is facing flood, drought and other calamities. Let things become stable. Then we can meet Modi and request him to address the main issue of Ram Temple. But we should not rise like a problem before him,” he added.
Suresh Das, mahant of Diagamber Akhada, attacked the BJP for “forgetting” the issue after coming to power.
Former BJP MP Ramvilas Vedanti said the Modi government should push for uniform civil code and scrapping article 370. “The day uniform civil code is implemented, I will assume that foundation of Ram Temple is laid. When Modi can visit temples in Dhaka, China and Nepal, what is stopping him from performing darshan at Ramlala in Ayodhya,” he said.
VHP’s central secretary Rajendra Singh Pankaj said the government will be requested to remove hurdles in the construction of Ram Temple. He also claimed that before his death, Singhal had handed over the responsibility of temple construction to Bhagwat. BJP MP Lallu Singh was present at the event but did not speak.
Hashim Ansari, the oldest litigant in the Ram Janmabhoomi case, told The Indian Express: “Things will be decided by the Supreme Court. There is no point in issuing statements.”