Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday hit out at the Congress, accusing the party of attacking the judiciary while it was hearing a crucial case like the Ayodhya dispute. "The Congress creates an atmosphere of fear for the judiciary when the court hears the Ayodhya issue. They do everything possible to impeach the Chief Justice of India. How can such things be accepted?" Modi said at a rally in Rajasthan's Alwar.
He made the statement the same day the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) organised a "Dharma Sabha" in Ayodhya to push for the construction of a Ram Mandir at the disputed site in Uttar Pradesh amid heightened security. Ayodhya has turned into a virtual fortress with multiple layers of security and deployment of drones as lakhs of right-wing supporters and leaders arrived in the town, chanting their demand to begin the construction of the Ram Mandir on Sunday itself.
Responding to Modi's remarks, Congress leader Kapil Sibal blamed Modi for challenging the judiciary, saying it was the CJI who had said in October that the Ram Mandir issue was not a priority, deferring the hearing in the case to January 2019.
PM alleges Congress was responsible for the matter not being heard in SC, I being representing one of the parties, the Congress party. Which also he doesn't know because Congress isn't a party in it, nor is BJP. I was representing a stakeholder: Congress' Kapil Sibal. #RamTemple pic.twitter.com/fZ2wEOrzIa
— ANI (@ANI) November 25, 2018
VHP, Hindu priests organise Dharma Sabha
This back and forth took place while VHP leaders and Hindu priests from across the country met at the 'Dharma Sabha' in Ayodhya on Sunday to discuss the way ahead for the construction of the Ram temple at the disputed site.
The 'Dharma Sabha' has been touted as the largest congregation of 'Ram bhakts' in Ayodhya since the 1992 'kar seva'. The congregation was held less than two weeks ahead of the 26th anniversary of the demolition of the 16th-Century Babri Mosque, which had triggered unrest in the pilgrimage town and riots in other parts of India.
VHP national vice-president Champat Rai addressed the Sabha. "The mobilisation you see today is just from 45 districts of Uttar Pradesh. Some intelligent people of this country need to be reminded that the issue of Ram Mandir didn't end on 6 December, 1992," Rai said, according to a News18 report.
The spectre of 1992 still haunts cores of people from both Hindu and Muslim communities who had directly or indirectly suffered in the violence that had erupted after the Mughal-era mosque was razed by a frenzied army of 'karsewaks' (right-wing activists) on 6 December.
The VHP has claimed that three lakh people, including seers, will attend its 'Dharma Sabha' to be held at Bade Bhakt Mal Ki Baghia, not far from the controversial Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas-run workshop, where work for building a temple has been underway since 1990. In the morning, the police had said that it was expecting as high as 5 lakh people on Sunday.
Meanwhile, an uneasy calm prevailed in Muslim-dominated areas like Dharam Kanta, as the mega event triggered some apprehension over the safety of the town's Muslim community.
A senior police official said that security has been stepped up in Ayodhya, in view of the VHP event and the presence of a large number of Shiv Sainiks in town.
"We are prepared to meet all challenges, all arrangements are in place in the town, the district and its border area to avoid any untoward incident. We are keeping a tight vigil and security around Ram Janmabhoomi site has also been stepped up," the senior official told PTI.
Chants of 'Jai Shri Ram' filled the air in the streets and around Saryu River, where the Yogi Adityanath government has also planned to install a 151-metre statue of Lord Ram.
Mahant Dharamdas, a prominent seer in Ayodhya said: "The Supreme Court should heed to the sentiments of these people who have arrived in Ayodhya today, with a pious belief that a Ram temple will be built soon."
Uddhav Thackeray accuses BJP of playing with Hindu sentiments
Security was also beefed up at Lakshman Qila on Saturday where Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray was welcomed after his arrival in Ayodhya. The Sena claimed to have brought several thousand supporters to Ayodhya for Thackeray's events. Arriving here ahead of Sunday's VHP rally for a Ram temple, Thackeray had asked the Narendra Modi government to wake up from a "Kumbhakarna-like slumber" and declare the date for its construction.
On Sunday, he slammed the BJP government again, advising it not to take the sentiments of the Hindus lightly anymore and bring an ordinance for the construction of the Ram temple which the Sena will support.
"Shiv Sena has been supporting (them) on the issue of Hindutva and will continue to do so. Bring ordinance or a law but construct temple ...the emotions of Hindus should not be taken for granted," he told reporters. Thackeray said Hindus are today asking when will the temple be made while maintaining that his visit to Ayodhya is neither for political purposes nor is there any hidden agenda.
"I am only asking (BJP) that when you were campaigning for elections you said all possibilities will be explored under the Constitution ...what has been done in four years ..when will you explore possibilities," he asked. The Sena chief said that if the temple is not made perhaps this government will also not last but the temple will definitely be made.
Mounting an attack on Yogi Adityanath, he said the chief minister said there was a Ram temple in Ayodhya and will remain "but when will it be visible... it should be constructed as the earliest."
The Sena chief was greeted with slogans of "Jai Shri Ram" when he arrived in Ayodhya with his wife Rashmi and son Aditya on Saturday. Mahant Nrityagopal Das, the chairman of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, was among those who welcomed Thackeray at Lakshman Qila, where the Sena leader made the remarks. A drone monitored the event.
'Justice delayed is justice denied'
While vociferous protests erupted in Ayodhya seeking the construction of the Ram Temple, the RSS also upped the ante at its home ground of Nagpur. RSS sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat said at a Hunkar Sabha, "The matter is in court, and the decision should be given early. It has also been proved that the temple was there... Justice delayed is justice denied."
Bhagwat was also quoted by ABP News as saying that if the issue was not a priority for the Supreme Court, the government should "think of what to do, how to bring in an ordinance, and construct the Ram Temple".
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Nov 25, 2018 19:56:12 IST