India rejects Pakistan’s criticism of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya
New Delhi on Thursday rejected Islamabad’s condemnation of the construction of the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, with the ministry of external affairs (MEA) saying Pakistan should not interfere in India’s internal affairs and refrain from “communal incitement”.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry had on Wednesday condemned the building of the temple and described the judgement by India’s Supreme Court (SC) that paved the way for the construction as “flawed”.
Responding to these remarks, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said: “We have seen the press statement by the Islamic Republic of Pakistan on a matter internal to India. It should desist from interfering in India’s affairs and refrain from communal incitement.”
He added, “While this is not a surprising stance from a nation that practices cross-border terrorism and denies its own minorities their religious rights, such comments are nevertheless deeply regrettable.”
The development came against the backdrop of Pakistan mounting a campaign on the Kashmir issue on the first anniversary (August 5) of India’s move to scrap the special status of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) and to split the erstwhile state into two union territories (UTs).
India-Pakistan ties have been at an all-time low since last year’s stand-off over Pulwama terror attack on February 14 blamed on the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), an outlawed outfit.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Pakistan’s Foreign Office had said: “The flawed judgement of the Indian Supreme Court paving the way for construction of the temple not only reflected the preponderance of faith over justice but also the growing majoritarianism in today’s India, where minorities, particularly Muslims and their places of worship, are increasingly under attack.”
The statement said the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) had passed resolutions condemning the demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was constructing the Ram temple as part of an agenda “of converting India into a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ ”.
It criticised the haste in starting construction of the temple amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic and the controversy over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019, and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), as well as measures that “demonised, dispossessed, marginalised and subjected” Muslims to targeted violence. It also criticised what it described as India’s “systematic human rights violations” in J&K and a “design to change the demography” of the region.
India and Pakistan have had several testy exchanges in recent months over the treatment of minorities in both countries.