New Delhi: Close to one lakh people turned up at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan for a functioned organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), demanding early construction of the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya.
Addressing them, on the stage, were nearly three dozen Hindu priests and senior RSS and VHP functionaries claiming repeatedly that the judiciary had, by not hearing the case early, let them down.
‘Ayodhya mein Shri Ram Janmabhoomi par bhavya mandir nirman ke liye kanoon banao [bring a law to pave way for creation of grand Ram Temple in Ayodhya],’ was the backdrop against which Hindu leaders sat and one-by-one addressed a packed ground.
One of those who addressed the crowd was RSS’ number 2, its general secretary Bhaiyyaji Joshi. The fact that RSS had dispatched its second-in-command to the event could be a hint of the seriousness the organisation accords to the issue and Sunday’s event.
In his short speech Joshi attacked both the BJP government at the Centre and the judiciary for not expediting the construction of Ram temple. “Respect for the judiciary is necessary for any nation... But if there are circumstances in which people begin to be doubtful about the judiciary... that country cannot progress,” he said in a veiled attack against the judiciary.
“It is the duty of Parliament to pave way for the construction of Ram Temple...We are not begging... the government should understand that their interest and the interest of the rest of us is the same. They should realise this soon,” Joshi said.
A few speakers down came the turn of a Hindu priest named Hansdevacharya. He said, “Those who don’t want the construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, should come forward. Ram bhakts will leave behind no trace of you.”
After delivering several such inflammatory statements, he said, “If we receive the permission of the courts, it’s fine. If we receive the permission through the Parliament, well and good. Otherwise tomorrow there could be another December 6 [when Babri Masjid was demolished by leaders and workers of BJP and RSS] and construction of Ram temple will begin.” He asked the crowd to swear that they will vote for Narendra Modi again in next year’s general elections, to keep him in power till he finishes the task of creation of Ram Mandir at the disputed site.
Among the speakers was Sadhvi Ritambhara, an accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case, who was charged with making audio cassettes with inflammatory rhetoric on the Ayodhya issue in ‘91 when she was 25 years old. She was also among 68 people indicted by the Liberhan commission probing the Babri Masjid demolition case, for leading the country “to the brink of communal discord”. She said, “We have suffered a lot but there is a limit to suffering also. There is a saying that if you keep rubbing sandalwood, at some point it is bound to catch fire.”
People had come to Ramlila Maidan from various parts of NCR-Faridabad, Noida, Greater Noida, Ghaziabad — and from some parts of Uttar Pradesh.
Chhattar Singh Rachoya came brandishing swords with his colleagues. One of them walked along holding posters of Rachoya with his name and mobile number printed in bold letters. “I told you to distribute posters to everyone. What’s the point of holding the posters if you don’t hand them around?” Rachoya said to his colleague. They too wanted a Ram Mandir.
Several others came because it was a Sunday. Some because their friends were coming. “We brought along everyone from our area. We left no one. After getting the message three days ago, we ensured that the entire mohalla participated in today’s rally,” said Kavita Chaudhary.
There was also one person who had come just to highlight his personal misery. “Will you media people not listen to us? Is unemployment not an issue for you?” Virendra Kumar shouted from the visitors’ stands. Kumar explained that he, along with his friends, throngs big events, wherever they are, in order to get close to leaders and media and seek their help.
With his six friends, all from Narwana, Haryana, Kumar went to Varanasi when Prime Minister Modi visited it last year to campaign for his party. He visited Ayodhya when Chief Minister Yogi was there to celebrate Diwali. “Both times I was not allowed to meet them. The security did not allow me to tell my story.”
Kumar has been unemployed for the last four years. Despite having done a post-graduation course in business management. “I got through a bank PO examination back in 2014 but haven’t got an appointment letter. The bank administrators say “commit suicide if you want to”.” Some of his other five friends, who like him are trying to get attention of any important-looking person, are MA and MSc. “But nobody has a job.” He says if any of the agitating parties today had given an iota of attention to unemployment, “a lot of people on the brink, like me, would be saved”.