An IPS officer heading the Uttar Pradesh Home Guard has been captured on video taking a pledge to work for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya “as soon as possible”. The video comes days after the state government drew flak over the failure to control communal clashes in Kasganj, where a 22-year-old man was killed.
The video, purportedly shot during an event at Lucknow University on January 28, shows Surya Kumar Shukla, Director General, Home Guard Headquarters, as saying: “Aaj is karyakram ke dauran, hum sab ye sankalp lete hain ke jaldse jald Ram Mandir ka bhavya nirmaan ho… Jai Shri Ram (Today, at this programme, all of us take a pledge that the Ram temple is made as soon as possible… Jai Shri Ram).”
Officials said the event ‘Ram Mandir Samasya aur Samadhan’ was organised by various outfits under the Akhil Bhartiya Samagra Vichar Manch and held at the Department of Public Administration’s building in Lucknow University.
SHOCKER…@UPGovt ‘s Top police officer takes oath to ‘help build ram temple at the earliest’… @Uppolice DG homeguard IPS Surya kumar Shukla taking oath for Ram temple…@myogiadityanath @PMOIndia @OfficeOfRG @CNNnews18 @SitaramYechury @BJP4India @yadavakhilesh pic.twitter.com/gmb1hsGNhI
— pranshumishra (@pranshumisraa) February 2, 2018
Speaking to The Indian Express, Shukla, who is scheduled to retire in August, said: “The issue is being blown out of proportion. This was a seminar to facilitate a consensus among Hindu and Muslim communities over the issue of the Ram temple. The Supreme Court, too, has directed that a solution be found through discussions. This event was an effort by some Muslims and I had gone there after being invited as I felt it was a good move. I do not find anything wrong with being part of the programme.”
Asked about the pledge, Shukla said, “What is wrong? I just said ‘Ram Mandir ka nirman ho’.”
Later, a statement issued on behalf of Shukla by the Central Training Institute, Home Guards, said that “it would be appropriate to build the Ram temple in the future” and that “everybody pledged to find out solution of this problem in future”.
Asked about Shukla taking the pledge, UP’s Principal Secretary (Home), Arvind Kumar, said, “The DG has given a clarification over the matter and there is no need to seek any further explanation.” However, the central IPS Association sought to distance itself from Shukla’s “act”.
“We disassociate ourselves from the act of a senior IPS officer as shown in the video & reiterate that it is against the ethos of neutrality, fairness and uprightness that Indian Police Service stands for,” the association posted on its official Twitter account.
Officials said organisations such as RSS-backed Muslim Rashtriya Manch, Sanatan Mahasabha, Karyasevak Muslim Manch, Bajrangbali Samajik Seva Sansthan and Bhagwa Raksha Vahini were part of the event.
Raza Rizvi, national convener of the intellectual cell of Muslim Rashtriya Manch, said, “I attended the event because all we want is the welfare of everyone. This dispute of Ramjanmabhoomi should end, and a Ram temple be made there. This event was organised to discuss the issue and its solution. The motive was to bring together people from the Hindu and Muslim communities who want a solution.”
Rizvi said Muslim Manch office-bearer Azam Khan had asked everyone present at the event to take the pledge for the construction of the temple “as soon as possible”. Lucknow University spokesperson, N K Pandey, said the institution was not part of the event and had merely offered a hall to organise the discussion. “It was entirely their programme and the university provided the venue as we thought that Ram Mandir is an important social issue and any healthy discussion on it is a welcome move,” Pandey said.