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'The VHP destroyed statues of Shiva and Kartik in 1992'

While the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has been spearheading the Ram Janambhoomi issue, it is the litigation filed by the Nirmohi Akhara of Ayodhya in 1959 that made the site on which the Babri mosque stood a contested land. Pushed into the sidelines, the chief priest of the Nirmohi Akhara, Mahant Jagganath Das tells Rinku Pegu how the VHP appropriated the temple agenda for their own sectarian ends, bringing ignominy and shame to the Hindu religion. According to Jagganath Das, the recent VHP shila daan was just one more gimmick by the party to fool the people while playing on their sentiments. 

Why did you not participate in the shila daan ceremony in Ayodhya, organized by the Ram Janambhhomi Nyas?
For the simple reason that the Nyas was backed by the VHP and the Bajrang Dal, who have no legitimacy to conduct the shila daan. What is the meaning of a shila daan when a shilanayas was performed nine years ago? The March 15 programme was nothing but a political gimmick. The VHP's unsavory intentions are clearly revealed by the initial declaration of a bhoomi puja. How can the question of a bhoomi puja arise when a shilanyas has already been performed. The VHP are not Ram bhakts, they have become thekadars(contractors) of Hinduism, bringing it a bad name. 

Why is the Nirmohi Akhara not mobilizing people for construction of the temple?
Building the temple is important to us but for that we are patient enough to wait for the court verdict. And let me make it very clear, we want to build the Ram temple at the disputed site but the issue here is that we should first be made the rightful owner. Only after the ownership issue is decided can the temple be built and for that we are wiling to abide by the judiciary.
We thoroughly disapprove of the way the VHP is going about the Ram temple movement by shedding blood and creating mayhem. These blood- thirsty people are not satisfied with what they have done in 1992. They have come back for more. What is their legitimacy? This is just a way for them to generate money.

But what if the court does not give a favourable judgment in your favour?
In the light of past judgments, we are confident about the court. So far, with regard to the disputed site, the court has only given favourable judgments. After the Babri masjid fell, the courts allowed a makeshift temple on the site. We are hopeful.

But it was not too long ago that your akhara was with the VHP?
Yes, but we realised that the VHP is packed with dalals (contractors) who trade religion for the sake of power. Before the demolition of the Babri masjid, Ashok Singal used to sit with us almost every day. First, the VHP came to us saying that it wanted to help us and wanted to be our associate. But then we went separate ways when the VHP stabbed us in the back by cunningly trying to replace us as the original litigant of the land dispute against the Sunni Waqf Board, in the case that is still pending in the Allahabad high court.

But don't you agree that the VHP have the masses behind them?
No body is with them, particularly not the people of Ayodhya, who have seen through their antics. The VHP has betrayed the nation. Look how many innocent lives were lost because of the hatred and violent methods of the VHP. 
Let me remind you that the VHP and Bajrang Dal did not just demolish the Babri mosque in 1992. Along with it they destroyed statues of Shiva, Kartik, Nandi and the chabutaras that encircled the disputed site and on which poojas and rituals were held. This was deliberate design to destroy all the symbols of the Nirmohi Akhara so we could not lay any claim to the property.

What is your future course of action? 
We will not let them build the temple without our consent first. And they must not consider our stand as an empty threat. The Nirmohi Akahara has followers and parishes all over the country. We too can mobilise our supporters to get our legitimate claim. Let me make it clear that there is no third party claimant to the disputed land on which the Babri masjid stood. It is solely between the Nirmohi Akhara and the Sunni Waqf Board. (tehelka)
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