The Ram Temple debate gained momentum at the Simhastha Kumbh in Ujjain as right-wing groups suggested that construction could start soon.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s central governing body said temple construction would begin without prior notice, but the Ram Janma Bhoomi Mandir Nirman Nyas, an unrecognised group, went a step further and announced that work on the four ‘Singh’ gates of the temple would begin on November 8.
In December 1992, a mob of Hindu kar sewaks (volunteers) demolished a part of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. They believe that the mosque was built by demolishing a temple at the site where Lord Ram was born.
Although the matter is sub judice, Right-wing groups have repeatedly raked up the issue. The polarising debate has gained prominence during the Ujjain fair because of its possible ramifications on the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.
More than 250 Hindu seers from across India — including Shankaracharya Vasudevanand, VHP governing body head Akhileshwaranand and Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas president Mahant Nratya Gopal Das — attended a number of sessions at the VHP camp at Simhastha earlier this week.
Camp publicity in-charge Sachin Baghel told HT that the seers agreed that construction of the temple was already delayed and that people’s patience was running out, but also that announcing a date might cause unnecessary trouble.
“The date to demolish Babri mosque was also not declared in advance so also the date to kick off the building of temple will not be announced,” said a person at the meeting who did not want to be named.
However, the Ram Janma Bhoomi Mandir Nirman Nyas, which feels the VHP hasn’t done enough to get the temple built, held a ‘dharma sansad’ (religious conclave) attended by around 100 seers on Friday and announced that construction would begin on November 8.
However, Shivshankar Das, the secretary of Digambar Ani Akhara, said the organisation was illegal and had no right to speak on the matter.
“We have issued a notice to Mahant Janmeyjaysharan, a member of the akhara, to reply in a week’s time after which the panch (governing body) would take appropriate action against him,” he said.
Nonetheless, these announcements are significant because the Supreme Court will hear petitions related to the Ram Temple in June, and could determine the next course of action of pro-temple groups.