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Published in the 1-15 June 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

SPECIAL REPORT
Ayodhya trust for educational complex
By P.M. Damodaran

Lucknow: A trust in Ayodhya has come up with a plan to construct a complex consisting of medical and engineering colleges in the vicinity of the proposed Ram Temple. To make the proposal a true secular character, a Ram temple will be constructed within the engineering college premises and a masjid within the medical college campus. 

Sri Raj Rajeshwari Sitaram Trust of former estate of Deara in Sultanpur district has offered to donate the required land, which is situated about 300 metres away from the government-acquired land in the disputed complex, for this purpose. According to the managing trustee, Mr. Shivendra Sahi, the project was meant to promote communal harmony in the twin cities of Ayodhya and Faizabad. 

The project has the support of religious leaders of both the Hindu and Muslim communities in Ayodhya. A delegation of the religious leaders from Ayodhya had recently been to Delhi to seek the support of political leaders, including the former Prime Minister, Mr. V.P. Singh. Mr. Singh has already expressed his desire to participate in the project. According to Mr. Sahi, another former Prime Minister, Mr. Chandra Shekhar has also promised his full cooperation to the project.

According to the present plan of the organisers, the construction of the complex will begin on August 7 or August 8. Besides the medical and engineering colleges, the complex will have a Sarv Dharam Sanvad Kendra (all religious discourse centre) and a centre of learning which will have a library where books on Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism and other religions will be available. The trust has already moved an application to the Faizabad district magistrate seeking demarcation of the trust land and removal of unauthorized construction there. 

The project has the support of Babri Masjid Action Committee. The Committee, of course, does not want the mosque in the medical college campus to be considered as an alternative to the Babri masjid. The Mahant Bhavnath Dass of the famous Sri Hanuman Garhi temple in Ayodhya considered the project as a social service work. There is no medical or engineering college in Faizabad division. They hope that the construction of the medical and engineering colleges in Ayodhya will help in the development the city. 

But the religious leaders maintained that the project had nothing to do with the mosque-temple dispute which they wanted to be resolved either through negotiations or through a court verdict. They look upon this project as a simple development project and a joint effort by the Hindus and Muslims to sow the seeds of love and brotherhood. 

The views of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad on the proposed project are not known. In fact, the VHP is opposed to the idea of any mosque within the parikrama area of the Ram Temple. But it has no legal right to stop the project as the land belonged to the latter. The response from the central and state governments is also expected to be positive, particularly after the formation of the Congress-led government at the centre.

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