BJP is going to deliver its one of the most crucial polls promises of building Ram Temple in Ayodhya. In 2019, BJP president Amit Shah set a 2024 deadline for building Lord Ram temple in Ayodhya. The Ram Janmabhoomi movement is at the very heart of the BJP’s politics and the party’s national rise. The beginning of the Ram mandir construction is crucial ahead of Bihar elections where BJP wants to come with full majority. Modi, in fact, has been keen to project himself as someone who is ‘correcting’ all of India’s historical ‘wrongs’ and bringing closure to long-pending issues. Narendra Modi, projected as one of the strongest Hindutva leaders, would be doing a groundbreaking ceremony on 5 August, COVID, or no COVID.
Well, this was a long legal battle and somewhere there is no harm in giving credit to BJP and its leaders. In 1853, a group of armed Hindu ascetics belonging to the Nirmohi Akhara occupied the Babri Masjid site and claimed ownership of the structure. Subsequently, the civil administration stepped in, and in 1855, divided the mosque premises into two parts: one for Hindus, and the other for Muslims. In 1883, the Hindus launched an effort to construct a temple on the platform. When the administration denied them permission to do this, they took the matter to court. In 1885, the Hindu Sub Judge Pandit Hari Kishan Singh dismissed the lawsuit. Afterwards, the higher courts also dismissed the lawsuit in 1886, in favor of the status quo. In December 1949, some Hindus placed idols of Rama and Sita in the mosque and claimed that they had miraculously appeared there. As thousands of Hindu devotees started visiting the place, the Government declared the mosque a disputed area and locked its gates. Then, multiple lawsuits from Hindus, asking for permission to convert the site into a place of worship. In the 1980s, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and other Hindu nationalist groups and political parties launched a campaign to construct the Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir (“Rama birthplace temple”) at the site. Then the Prime minister Rajiv Gandhi government allowed Hindus to access the site for prayers. He himself went and opened the gates by unlocking it. This continued for a few years but there was a silent revolt in Hindus, On 6 December 1992, Hindu nationalists demolished the mosque.
In 2003, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) conducted excavations of the site on court orders. The ASI report indicated the presence of a 10th-century north Indian style temple under the mosque. Muslim groups and the historians supporting them disputed these findings and dismissed them as politically motivated. The Allahabad High Court, however, upheld the ASI’s findings. The excavations by the ASI were heavily used as evidence by the court that the predating structure was a massive Hindu religious building. In 2009, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) released its election manifesto, repeating its promise to construct a temple to Rama at the site. In 2010, the Allahabad High Court ruled that the 2.77 acres (1.12 ha) of disputed land be divided into 3 parts, with 1/3 going to the Ram Lalla or Infant Lord Rama represented by the Hindu Mahasabha for the construction of the Ram temple, 1/3 going to the Muslim Sunni Waqf Board and the remaining 1/3 going to a Hindu religious denomination Nirmohi Akhara. The five judges Supreme Court bench heard the title dispute cases from August to October 2019. On 9 November 2019, the Supreme Court ordered the land to be handed over to a trust to build the Hindu temple. It also ordered the government to give alternate 5-acre land to Sunni Waqf Board to build the mosque. On 5 February 2020, the trust known as Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra was created by the Government of India. Ram Janmabhoomi is the name given to the site that is assumed to be the birthplace of Rama, believed to be the seventh avatar of the Hindu deity Vishnu. The Ramayana states that the location of Rama’s birthplace is on the banks of the Sarayu river in a city called “Ayodhya”. A section of Hindus in India claims that the exact site of Rama’s birthplace is where the Babri Masjid once stood in the present-day Ayodhya. According to this theory, the Mughals demolished a Hindu shrine that marked the spot and constructed a mosque in its place.
On 9 November 2019, the Supreme Court ordered that the land be handed over to a trust to build the Hindu temple. It also ordered the government to give alternate 5-acre land to Sunni Waqf Board to build the mosque. On 5 February 2020, the trust known as Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra was created by the Government of India. The trust will oversee the construction of the Ram Mandir.
August 5 has been finalized as the date for the Ram Mandir ‘Bhoomi Pujan’ (groundbreaking ceremony) in Ayodhya – a decision that comes with political undertones. This date also marks the first anniversary of the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status with the reading down of Article 370 of the constitution, a long-standing demand of the Sangh Parivar and one that predates even its Ram temple movement by decades. By linking these two events in this fashion, it is clear that a political message is being sent. The BJP hopes a definite move towards the construction of the Ram temple could give it mileage in the state elections in Bihar later this year and even in West Bengal in 2021, where Hindutva will be a major poll plank for the party. It has also been noted that by the time the temple is built on the site where the Babri Masjid once stood, it will likely be time for the 2024 national elections.
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