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Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019

Ayodhya verdict: Supreme Court’s judgment brought out the truth, says RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat

Mohan Bhagwat also urged that those expressing happiness over the decision should do so “with restraint, moderation and politeness” to avoid any provocative or instigating action or deed and staying within the limits of the Constitution and law.

india Updated: Nov 09, 2019 20:37 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rashtriya Swamsevak Sangh (RSS) Chief Mohan Bhagwat during a press conference on the Supreme Court verdict on the Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi Babri Masjid case, at Keshav Kunj in New Delhi.
Rashtriya Swamsevak Sangh (RSS) Chief Mohan Bhagwat during a press conference on the Supreme Court verdict on the Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi Babri Masjid case, at Keshav Kunj in New Delhi.(Mohd Zakir/HT PHOTO)
         

As the Supreme Court announced its verdict on the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit on Saturday, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS’) chief Mohan Bhagwat welcomed the decision and said it should not be viewed from the prism of “victory or defeat”.

Mohan Bhagwat also urged that those expressing happiness over the decision should do so “with restraint, moderation and politeness” to avoid any provocative or instigating action or deed and staying within the limits of the Constitution and law.

Bhagwat, who congratulated the people of India for patiently waiting for the “long-drawn” legal battle, was quick to add that the conclusion arrived through “churning of truth and justice” should be perceived as one that will “enhance the integrity and brotherhood of the entire Indian society”.

The RSS, which is the ideological fount of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has for decades pursued the issue of constructing a Ram temple at the disputed land in Ayodhya, where the Babri Masjid stood until its demolition in 1992.

Earlier, along with its more hardline affiliate, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the RSS had also nudged the BJP government to take the legislative route for the construction of the temple, just as it had been done for the Somnath Temple in Gujarat.

This was done after the cadre grew restive over the prolonged legal battle, but the government insisted on letting the court pronounce the decision.

On Saturday, the Sangh appeared measured in its response, taking care, not to stoke unrest.

“Taking forward the decision of the Supreme Court verdict, we hope that the government will initiate steps soon to end the controversy and acrimony,” Bhagwat said.

To a question on whether the RSS will now take up the issue of the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi and the Shahi Idgah in Mathura, which have also been on the list of temples that the VHP has been fighting to reclaim, Bhagwat’s response was on similar lines.

“… There was a historic background to the RSS being involved in Ayodhya. Our work as an organisation is man-making and we don’t involve ourselves in agitations,” he said.

RSS functionaries, who spoke to HT on condition of anonymity, said the Sangh has made a decision not to raise the issue of Kashi and Mathura, when the tempers are already flared.

And by doing so, the Sangh is also making an attempt to quell the possibility of communal flare-ups, they said.

The VHP, which was at the forefront of the Ayodhya movement, then led by its chief Ashok Singhal, also chose a low-key celebration. Its working president, Alok Kumar, said it is a day of expressing gratitude and giving thanks.

“… This expression of joy cannot be aggressive. No one has been defeated. There should not be anything that offends or humiliates anyone,” Kumar said.

Kumar also asserted that just as the Somnath Temple was built using donations from people, the Ram Temple at Ayodhya will not be built using government money.

The stance of the RSS and VHP leadership is in contrast to the statements that were made in the past by firebrand leaders such as Pravin Togadia. To ensure they are not perceived as anti-Muslim, a massive outreach was planned by Sangh.

While the Muslim outreach was planned ostensibly to prevent the repeat of violent protests that broke out on April 2 last year during Bharat Bandh, but several functionaries aware of the developments said, the Sangh is making a concerted attempt to shed its image as anti-Muslims.

“The Sangh reached out to the Muslims through its senior leadership, hammering on how it believes in peace and not exclusion or otherness,” said a senior functionary.

Even as the Sangh’s critics accuse it of fostering Hindutva and tacit support for self-styled cow vigilantes, who have been accused of lynching members from the minority community in states such as Gujarat and Rajasthan; the Sangh has widened its outreach to clerics and the ulemas to broker peace.

In September, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat met Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind president Arshad Madani to draw up plans for ensuring peace and harmony.

Senior leaders of the Sangh travelled across the country, especially in the northern states, meeting prominent Muslims leaders, professionals, academicians and members of civil society to underline the need for maintaining peace.

An attempt was also made to win over the Muslims by portraying Babur as an invader and the Indian Muslim not being descendants of the Mughal lineage. A similar illustration was drawn by urging the Muslims to follow Dara Shikoh a “good Muslim, who kept trying to be a good Indian” and not Aurangzeb who is painted as a tyrant and a bigot.

“It is not a Hindu-Muslim or a temple-mosque issue as it is made out to be. This is a fight to overturn a wrong. There was a temple that Babur’s general Mir Baqi built after demolishing a temple. This fight is to reclaim that sacred space and not a fight against the Indian Muslims,” said the second functionary.

To further alter its image, the Sangh, which has been pushing the Centre to bring a law for population control and raising concerns about demographic changes, which are seen as indication of its anti-Muslim stance by its opponents; it has also instructed its cadre to not raise the issue of reclaiming temples in Mathura and Kashi at a time when tempers are already frayed.