Ayodhya: As the Supreme Court on Monday deferred the hearing in Ayodhya title suit case to January, it is now unlikely that a verdict in the decades-old dispute will be announced before the 2019 general elections. Back in Ayodhya, however, the faithful had been trickling in over the past few months expecting the apex court to fulfil their wishes, which their elected representatives have failed at delivering -- construction of a grand Ram temple at the disputed site.
Devotees and seers associated with Akharas have lost their faith in the pro-Hindu governments — both, at the Centre and in the state — as their poll promise of building the Ram temple hasn’t seen any action.
While the Central government and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) have been portraying the Supreme Court as inclined against the Hindu majority beliefs in the backdrop of its recent verdicts, such as the ones that allowed women’s entry into Sabarimala shrine and decriminalised Section 377, the believers congregated at Ayodhya had their hopes resting on the apex court to clear way for construction of a temple dedicated to Lord Ram in Ayodhya, birthplace of the Hindu deity according to their religious texts.
Mahant Paramhans Das, 43, a seer camping at the Tapasvi Ji Ki Chaavni beside the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, where stones are being collected for temple construction, is optimistic that the construction of the temple will begin before the 2019 elections. He says that while the governments have done nothing but fake poll promises, the Supreme Court has sensed the importance of this issue.
“The government has completed 95 percent of its tenure in the Centre and so far nothing has been done by them on this issue. Earlier, they were saying that work on this front will start only if the BJP government comes to the power in the state, but still no stone has been turned for Ram Lala. The court’s verdict is the only hope left,” says Paramhans, who had sat on an indefinite hunger strike a few weeks ago demanding construction of the Ram temple. Seven days into his fast, the Uttar Pradesh Police had to forcefully admit him to the hospital, and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath took time out to personally meet him.
“Yogi has assured me that the construction of temple will start before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and has also said that he will step down as the chief minister if construction does not start. But, I am not very hopeful. I have full faith that Supreme Court will give the decision in our favour,” he says.
With the Supreme Court postponing the hearing in the case to 19 January on Monday, hopes of the Mahant and many others expecting construction of the grand temple to start before 2019 elections seem to have taken a hit.
Acharya Satendra Das, who is in his late 60s and is the chief priest at the makeshift temple on the disputed site, says he is of the view that he will not be able to see the Ram temple in this life.
“My God resides in a tent. He faces harsh summer, there is no arrangement of a cooler or even a fan for him. There is no heater for sizzling winters. The chief minister came to Ayodhya numerous times, but not even once did he visit his Lord, and I am telling you that the promise of constructing the temple was just an eyewash to form the government. There would be some development on this front if they (BJP government) were serious about their promises,” says the chief priest, adding that while he cannot comment on the observations of the Supreme Court, he has lost all hopes with regard to the construction of the temple.
“There is this guy Togadia (referring to Praveen Togadia), who was here a few days ago demanding the construction of temple but then he also announced his political outfit and went away. This is all being done for the vested interests and nothing else. Actually, no one is really bothered about the construction of the temple here,” says Satendra Das. “Sabko ispe apni rotiya sekni hai. Kaam kisi ko kuch nahi karna hai (Everyone wants to reap political mileage from this issue, no one wants to work on it),” he says.
Kripal Singh, 30, a Mumbaikar who travelled to Ayodhya following the call given by Pravin Togadia, says the government has ditched Hindu devotees on the issue of Ram temple. “What has the government done for Ram temple besides giving speeches? Nothing,” he says, expressing concern over the suffering of lord Ram in the makeshift temple.
Paramhans Das declares that the Muslims of India have given their consensus to build a Ram Temple with “only” two percent of them opposing it. “The government could have done it by bringing a law in the Parliament, but then also they have an excuse of not having the majority. This indicates it was just a fake poll promise to garner votes and nothing else,” he says.
The main petitioner, in this case, Iqbal Ansari, in his 40s, says the Supreme Court should consider concluding the hearing in this case soon.
“There is no point left in dragging this further. We have all the proofs of a mosque at the disputed site and when it was being demolished. I would be content even if the land is divided equally for the construction of temple and mosque,” says Ansari, surrounded by two police guards assigned with his protection a few years ago. Ask him if he has ever been threatened and Ansari reveals that recently an individual from Amethi asked him to withdraw the case or be ready to be shown across the border.
Anxious over the time that has passed since the demolition of the mosque (26 years), Ansari says, “I am also ready to file the review petition or whatever will be required once the decision comes.”
Jethabhai, 63, a pilgrim from Kathiawar in Gujarat, says he was very disappointed to see that there has been no progress in building the temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya.
“I am disappointed. There is no temple here. Even the Durga Puja pandals, which are temporarily built in Gujarat, are more grand and big. I thought that Modi would have done some work but nothing has been done here,” says Jethabhai, as he scribbles Jai Shree Ramon one of the bricks constituting the makeshift temple site. Locals at the site say these bricks were collected from the demolished Babri mosque.
“I would have got the temple constructed if I would have been at Narendra Modi’s place,” says the Gujarati pilgrim.
Rajnikant G, a stone carver who is paid by a Gujarat-based devotee of Lord Ram, says he has been carving stones in Ayodhya for four years but hasn’t seen any development by the government for the temple. Various Hindu outfits have funded such preparatory work for temple construction at the disputed site.
“I thought that the temple construction will start when (Narendra) Modi became the prime minister. I happily came here, but since there had been no action by them, I do not think that this government will ever be able to construct the temple,” he says. Rajnikant says he is in Ayodhya as long as he is getting paid and will return to his native, Sabarmati, in Gujarat once he finds a better opportunity.
The author is a Lucknow-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com.
Updated Date: Oct 30, 2018 21:24 PM