On August 5, the prime minister performed bhoomi puja for the construction of what is billed as the grandest temple to Lord Rama at the once disputed site in Ayodhya. Will that apply closure to the long-festering communal strife over the centuries-old mandir-masjid dispute? In one way, it should. After all, it is the culmination of a long and often bitter struggle often interspersed with religious riots between the protagonists and antagonists of the Ram temple at the very site which the Ram bhakts believe was the birthplace of Lord Rama. There is a considerable archaeological and other historic material to support that belief of the devotees of the Lord Rama. However, from the time an idol of the Ram Lalla surfaced overnight at the disputed site in the newly-freed country to the time when the locks of the disputed site were opened and shilanayas of a Ram temple permitted, successive Congress governments have erred grievously. Instead of grappling with the divisive issue frontally, they chose to push it under the carpet in the hope that it would somehow go away. Whatever one’s view on the Supreme Court judgment to end this festering sore on the country’s body politic, it needs to be commended.
It at least had the wisdom to find an amicable solution which politicians of all hues who had ruled the country since Independence had woefully failed to find. Strictly speaking, the apex court did not adjudicate a matter of religious faith. No. It was a title dispute over a piece of land and building thereon that the court disposed of on the basis of humongous historical material produced before it. Those who find fault with the court unfairly deny it credit for not evading the issue on one pretext or the other as everyone else involved had done for over seventy years. Permission to build a temple at the presumed birth-place of Lord Rama, and giving a five-acre plot to the Muslim protagonists for the construction of a mosque some distance removed from the temple site, has ended the bitter dispute, at least for now. Hopefully, no attempt will be made by anyone to try and reopen the highly emotive issue which can engender a communal conflagration if not dealt with sternly.
Unfortunately, a few irresponsible elements can be heard on social media holding out dire threats against the safety of the temple ‘when our time comes’, whatever that means. It is for the authorities to put down such inflammatory social media posts with the heavy hand of the law. On their part, the protagonists of the temple will do nothing to rub salt on the wounds of those who certainly feel aggrieved that a symbol of a past they proudly own, and crave for even now, had been erased to erect a temple to what they fear is the resurgence of the Hindu faith under a friendly dispensation in New Delhi and Lucknow. Governments do not belong to any one, single community, social, religious, caste or creed.