Prime Minister Narendra Modi today participated in a “Bhoomi Pujan” or a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the building of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, where the Babri Masjid once stood.
The ceremony was attended by several BJP and far-right Sangh Parivar leaders including Uttar Pradesh chief minister Ajay Singh Bisht (Yogi Adityanath), UP governor Anandiben Patel, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and yoga guru and businessman Ram Kisan Yadav (Baba Ramdev).
More than two decades after it was destroyed by marauding Hindu mobs, the historical Babri Masjid land was awarded to Hindus by the Supreme Court for the construction of Ram temple in November last year, despite acknowledging that the destruction of the mosque was against the rule of law.
The Babri Masjid in Ayodhya was razed to the ground on December 6, 1992, by extremists Hindus, claiming that it was built on the site of a temple allegedly destroyed by Muslim rulers. The demolition of the medieval mosque, which was constructed under the rule of the first Mughal Emperor Babar, triggered religious riots in many parts of India that resulted in the death of more than 1000 people.
After he planted a jasmine sapling at the temple site and concluded the groundbreaking ceremony Modi began his address by raising slogans praising Ram. “The echoes of this slogan can be heard around the world today,” he said. “I am honoured that the temple trust invited me here, gave me the opportunity to be a part of this historic event.”
“Centuries of struggle are coming to an end today,” he continued. “I’m sure hundreds of people can barely believe that they are alive to see this day. Our Ram Lalla has been living under bamboo sticks, now we will build him a real temple. This land, where Ram was born, has got its freedom today from the cycle of being broken and rebuilt.”
Leaders from other parties – including Congress’s Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal and Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav – also celebrated the event and the building of the Ram temple.
In a tweet in Hindi, Rahul Gandhi said: “Maryada Purshottam Ram is the ultimate embodiment of supreme human values. He is the core of humanism embedded deep in our hearts. Ram is love, he can never appear in hatred. Ram is compassion, he can never appear in cruelty. Ram is justice, he can never appear in injustice.”
मर्यादा पुरुषोत्तम भगवान राम सर्वोत्तम मानवीय गुणों का स्वरूप हैं। वे हमारे मन की गहराइयों में बसी मानवता की मूल भावना हैं।
राम प्रेम हैं
वे कभी घृणा में प्रकट नहीं हो सकते
राम करुणा हैं
वे कभी क्रूरता में प्रकट नहीं हो सकते
राम न्याय हैं
वे कभी अन्याय में प्रकट नहीं हो सकते।
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 5, 2020
Congress’s Priyanka Gandhi Vadra hailed the groundbreaking ceremony of the temple, tweeting, “With the message and grace of Lord Rama and Mother Sita, the Bhoomipujan ceremony of the temple of Ramlala became an occasion for national unity, fraternity and cultural congregation,” read another tweet, in a reminder of the clash and bloodshed over the issue for decades.”
सरलता, साहस, संयम, त्याग, वचनवद्धता, दीनबंधु राम नाम का सार है। राम सबमें हैं, राम सबके साथ हैं।
भगवान राम और माता सीता के संदेश और उनकी कृपा के साथ रामलला के मंदिर के भूमिपूजन का कार्यक्रम राष्ट्रीय एकता, बंधुत्व और सांस्कृतिक समागम का अवसर बने।
मेरा वक्तव्य pic.twitter.com/ZDT1U6gBnb
— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) August 4, 2020
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief also hailed the ceremony. “Congratulations to the entire country on the occasion of Bhoomi Pujan. May the blessings of Lord Rama be with us. With his blessings, our country will get rid of hunger, illiteracy and poverty and make India the most powerful nation in the world. May India give direction to the world in times to come. Jai Shree Ram, Jai Bajrang Bali,” Kejriwal said in a tweet in Hindi.
भूमि पूजन के मौक़े पर पूरे देश को बधाई
भगवान राम का आशीर्वाद हम पर बना रहे। उनके आशीर्वाद से हमारे देश को भुखमरी, अशिक्षा और ग़रीबी से मुक्ति मिले और भारत दुनिया का सबसे शक्तिशाली राष्ट्र बने। आने वाले समय में भारत दुनिया को दिशा दे।
जय श्री राम! जय बजरंग बली!
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) August 5, 2020
Nobody in the opposition even tried to question the narrative surrounding the destruction of Babri Masjid but instead went with the populist Hindu wave in hailing the construction of the temple.
A day before the ceremony in Ayodhya, All India Muslim Personal Law Board said: “Babri Masjid was and will always be a Masjid.”
“#BabriMasjid was and will always be a Masjid. #HagiaSophia is a great example for us. Usurpation of the land by an unjust, oppressive, shameful and majority appeasing judgment can’t change it’s status. No need to be heartbroken. Situations don’t last forever.
#ItsPolitics (sic)” it said in a tweet.
#BabriMasjid was and will always be a Masjid. #HagiaSophia is a great example for us. Usurpation of the land by an unjust, oppressive, shameful and majority appeasing judgment can’t change it’s status. No need to be heartbroken. Situations don’t last forever.#ItsPolitics pic.twitter.com/nTOig7Mjx6
— All India Muslim Personal Law Board (@AIMPLB_Official) August 4, 2020
Hyderabad MP and AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi tweeted with the hashtag Babri Zinda Hai (Babri is alive), Owaisi said, “Babri Masjid thi, hai, aur rahegi.”
— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) August 5, 2020
He also slammed Priyanka Gandhi Vadra for her statement hailing the construction of the Temple, saying that “they are not pretending anymore”.
“Glad that they are not pretending anymore. It’s okay if they want to embrace this extremist ideology of Hindutva but why all this hollow talk about brotherhood? Don’t be shy, please be proud of your party’s contributions to the movement that demolished our Babri Masjid,” Owaisi said in a tweet.
Glad that they are not pretending anymore. It’s okay if they want to embrace this extremist ideology of Hindutva but why all this hollow talk about brotherhood?
Don’t be shy, please be proud of your party’s contributions to the movement that demolished our Babri Masjid https://t.co/wT2H9GJ7MD
— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) August 4, 2020
Popular Front of India (PFI) in a statement slammed the government saying that a democratically elected government should treat all citizens equally as stipulated by the constitution and not take sides in religious, cultural or other forms of disputes within the nation.
Responding to the Prime Minister’s and other elected representatives’ participation in the event, PFI’s chairman O.M.A Salam said, “it is not only a blatant violation of the oath of office they have taken, but also an act of adding salt to a national wound and alienating the nation’s largest minority community. This is another instance of the Modi government showing its true colour”.