No mosque near Ram Temple, says Ayodhya priest Ram Vilas Vedanti
Vedanti was adamant about the construction of a temple on the 2.7 acre where makeshift Ram Temple stands. The disputed piece of land remains India’s most potent religious flashpoint.Updated: Oct 02, 2017 16:47 IST
Mahant Ram Vilas Vedanti, a former Bharatiya Janata Party legislator and ex-chair of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, on Monday turned down a suggestion to construct a mosque on the 67-acre plot of land near the makeshift Ram Temple in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya.
Vedanti, who claims he played a pivotal role in bringing down the Mughal-era mosque on December 6, 1992, was speaking at a conference organised by Pune’s MIT World Peace University to discuss ways of finding an amicable solution to the long-standing religious dispute.
While members of the conference pitched the idea of constructing places of worship to all religions, including a mosque, within the 67-acre campus, Vedanti was adamant about the construction of a temple on the 2.7 acre where the structure stands.
The disputed 2.7-acre piece of land remains India’s most potent religious flashpoint. Many Hindus believe that god Ram was born where Babur, the first Mughal emperor, built the mosque. More than 3000 people were killed in the communal violence that followed the demolition of the mosque by a Hindu mob in 1992.
Vedanti is among the 13 people, including senior BJP leader LK Advani, who has been accused by the Central Bureau of Investigation of conspiring to bring down the 16th-century mosque.
He pointed out that the mosque should be built in Muslim-dominated areas of Faizabad - the twin city of Ayodhya.
“We want an amicable settlement of the issue. The mosque, however, cannot come up at the 67-acre campus. That land belonged to the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas and was taken over by the Union government headed by [former PM] Narasimha Rao. We demand that land is restored to the Nyas,” he told the Hindustan Times on the sidelines of the conference.
Nyas is a trust that is committed to building a Ram temple at a disputed religious site.
He was, however, open to the suggestion of building boarding, educational, and health facilities within the campus.
Even as the Supreme Court has suggested an amicable solution to the dispute that has been the source of simmering communal tension in the region, Vedanti said he is hopeful that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who managed to get a temple constructed in the orthodox Saudi Arabia, will find a way for the construction of a Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
“We are hopeful that the construction will begin before the 2019 Lok Sabha poll … My assessment is that it will begin after December 6, 2018,” he said.
He also asserted that the structure that was brought down in 1992 was “not a mosque” as it had “no minaret, but idols and remnants of a temple.”
“Only some Sunnis, who are acting on the instruction of terrorists, don’t want this to be solved. Mir Baqi, the lieutenant of Babar (Mughal ruler), who was sent to demolish the temple was a Shia; his community now wants a temple at the site. Recently, some Shia groups sent trucks of construction materials for the temple,” he said.
The Shia Waqf Board filed a 30-page affidavit in the Supreme Court in August, saying a mosque can be built in a Muslim-dominated area at a reasonable distance from the “most revered place of birth of Ram” in Ayodhya.
Last week, Uttar Pradesh health minister Siddharth Nath Singh said he is confident that the Ram Temple will be constructed before 2019.
The BJP leader told reporters that the situation in the country is changing and people who were earlier opposing it “now want a grand temple”.
The demand for the RamTemple has been pivotal to the BJP’s rise. The saffron party has said in its manifesto that it is committed to “explore all possibilities within the framework of the constitution” to make that happen.
First Published: Oct 02, 2017 16:24 IST