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Parivar ushers election campaign from Ayodhya
By PM Damodaran, Lucknow
barging into the prohibited area of sanctum sanctorum (garbh griha) of the
make-shift Temple in the disputed Mosque-Temple complex in Ayodhya on
October 17 a rehearsal for the VHP to begin the construction of the
disputed temple from 12 March next year? This apprehension is agitating
minds of the common man. Some top VHP leaders, including Ashok Singhal
went to the complex on that day and sought the permission of the security
staff present there to enter the sanctum sanctorum to worship the idol of
Ramlalla. When the VHP leaders were denied permission, there was a scuffle
between them and the security staff and in the melee, some managed to
enter the prohibited area.
The news spread to Karsewakpuram, a short distance away from the complex
where a meeting of the Bajrang Dal was in progress. A few dozen Bajrang
Dal activists rushed to the complex. They were in the prohibited area for
two hours performing arti of Ramlalla idol, distributing prasada and
raising slogans in favour of Ram Temple. They also hoisted a saffron flag!
All the while the security personnel remained mute spectators.
The VHP leaders have clearly violated the court orders (worship is
permitted only from a distance as per the Supreme Court directive in view
of the security of the disputed complex). The incident had, in fact,
occurred a few hours before the visit of the UP chief minister, Mr.
Rajnath Singh, to Faizabad, six kilometres from Ayodhya.
A pertinent question arises as to why the security personnel failed to
forcibly stop the VHP leaders from entering the prohibited area and arrest
them when they refused to retreat. The security personnel were obviously
intimidated by the VHP leaders due to their hold on the political
leadership. Moreover, the security personnel were apparently waiting for
two hours to get the orders from their political high-ups as to how they
would deal with the situation.
VHP leaders are unrepentant. In fact they have justified their barging
into the prohibited area. Some of the VHP leaders later in the day rushed
to the state capital Lucknow to describe their heroic deed before media
persons! They defiantly said that the security personnel would not have
the courage to arrest a "Hindu for worshipping Ramlalla". A VHP
leader even boasted that when they were entering the sanctum sanctorum,
they had challenged the security personnel to arrest them! They had also
dared the government to take action against them by filing FIRs if they
have violated court orders. They maintained that the status quo ordered by
the court was only on the construction of the temple and not on worshiping
in the makeshift temple.
Prime Minister AB Vajpayee has tried to pass it off as a lapse on the part
of the security personnel, adding that such 'mishaps' would not occur
again. He suggested the deployment of more companies of security forces in
the disputed complex to check such incidents. Home Minister Advani too
took a similar line.
Meanwhile, the deputy commandant of the CRPF, which is manning the
disputed complex, has filed an FIR against three dozen VHP leaders,
including Mr. Singhal, Mr. Dixit and Mr. Giriraj Kishore, at the Ram
Janambhoomi police station in Ayodhya for trespassing into the prohibited
area two days after the incident.
There is apprehension in the minds of the common man and religious
minorities that the Centre may toe the VHP line if the latter now tried to
begin the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya from 12 March next
year as per the announcement of its leaders. It is feared that if the kar
sewaks of the VHP take the law into their own hands and begin the
construction of the temple by violating court orders, the friendly
Bharatiya Janata Party governments at the Centre and in the state (U.P.)
may just tell the security personnel posted at the disputed structure to
look the other way. In that case the governments at the centre and in the
state can claim they have told the security personnel to exercise
restraint fearing that any action by them may result in bloodshed in view
of the presence of large number of people there. The then Chief Minister
of UP, Mr Kalyan Singh had given precisely this excuse for failing to take
action against the kar sewaks when they went ahead to demolish the
disputed structure flouting the court orders in 1992.
The 17 October incident must have given confidence to the VHP to go ahead
with its plan to begin the construction of the temple from 12 March 2002.
In fact the ruling BJP is in search of a sensitive electoral issue to
fight the forthcoming Assembly elections in the most populous and
politically important state and this Ayodhya development may serve as a
god-send gift to the party to gain the support of the majority community.
The incident in Ayodhya has come in the wake of the statement by Mr.
Vajpayee only weeks ago that a solution to the Ayodhya dispute would be
found before March next year which is exactly the time set by the VHP to
begin the construction of the Ram Temple. He had also said that
discussions were in progress with the concerned groups involved in the
dispute to arrive at a solution. He had, however, refused to divulge the
details though it was evident that no serious and meaningful discussions
were in progress with the real representatives of the two communities to
find a solution to the imbroglio. All the contending parties to the
dispute have described the claim of the Prime Minister as unfounded.
Meanwhile, opposition parties and the Muslim organisations have severely
condemned the incident. The All-India Babri Masjid Action Committee (AIBMAC)
has threatened to go to the court seeking the arrest of the VHP leaders if
the government failed to take proper action against them. In fact the
minority community is nowadays looking at the various measures taken by
the central government with suspicion. Recently the Centre has banned the
Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), which the Muslims had not
taken lightly. They consider the ban as totally unwarranted and partisan
The Peoples Front, consisting of the Left parties and the Samajwadi Party,
has alleged government's collusion in the forcible trespassing of the VHP
leaders into the prohibited area. The Samajwadi Party chief, Mr. Mulayam
Singh Yadav, maintained that without the consent of the central and state
governments, the VHP functionaries would not have dared to enter the
On the other hand, the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party alleged that
this incident as well as the vandalism unleashed by the BJP volunteers in
the Taj Mahal premises in Agra earlier in October were attempts by the
ruling BJP to incite communal feelings and tension in Uttar Pradesh ahead
of the Assembly elections. Among the ruling National Democratic Alliance
partners, the Samata had condemned the incident. q
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