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An Ayodhya as playground for kids (not politics)

From Vijay to Azim, residents say they want to avoid acrimony at any cost

By PTI in Ayodhya

  • Published 9.11.18, 3:59 AM
  • Updated 9.11.18, 4:32 AM
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath visits Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas president Mahant Nritya Gopal Das in Ayodhya on Wednesday.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath visits Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas president Mahant Nritya Gopal Das in Ayodhya on Wednesday. (PTI)

Many Ayodhya residents are in favour of turning the disputed site into a playground for children, and not politicians, at a time the chorus for early construction of a Ram temple grows louder ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Tired of living under the restive shadow of communalism, Ayodhya residents, be it Vijay Singh or Mohammad Azim, do not want any fresh political trigger for disharmony.

Singh, a doctor who lives near Ram Janmabhoomi, is a devout Hindu but he says he is not in favour of building a temple there if it leads to acrimony between two communities.

The 48-year-old medic says he was present in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, when Babri Masjid was demolished and has seen the riots that followed in the holy city.

“People of Ayodhya have lived peacefully and in communal harmony for ages, but politicians stoke fire to suit their agenda. Even in 1992, so many people had come from outside to bring the structure (mosque) down. It was a very tragic and unfortunate incident that affects Ayodhya till this day,” Singh said.

Like most people in the city, Singh is an avowed devotee of Lord Ram, and the iron gates of his clinic neighbouring Sugriv Kila displays the chant “Jai Shri Ram” in Hindi.

On the way to Ram Janmabhoomi, underneath a tree, he and his wife run a makeshift counter to offer medical help to devotees.

“We all have faith in Lord Ram, and I personally have no issue with a temple being built there, but if it leads to acrimony between two communities, then I am not in favour of it. Instead, I feel, the disputed site should be turned into a playground where children of all faiths can play together,” Singh told PTI.

The demand for early construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site has been gaining ground in the BJP and the Sangh parivar in general.

Many BJP leaders, including Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, have been pitching for hastening the process of building a Ram temple in Ayodhya. Some of them, including Union minister Vijay Goel, have suggested taking the ordinance route.

Ayodhya resident Vivek Tripathi, who worked as a software engineer in several parts of the country as well as abroad, was in town to attend Deepotsav celebrations with his family. He recalls the horrible memories of 1992 when he was a school kid.

“I was living in Bhopal those days, and after the riots broke out in Ayodhya, it affected our city (Bhopal) too as it did in other parts of India. We were in school when it was shut suddenly, and I had to run back home taking alleys and bylanes, avoiding the route I would usually take as it wasn’t safe then,” Tripathi said.

The software professional whose last assignment was in Italy has taken to permaculture in Himachal Pradesh. Tripathi said he understood the scale of the tragedy only when “I grew up and read about the case”.

“I do not understand this temple-mosque rift. Why are we trying to revive an issue that might trigger something unpleasant? Communal harmony is important, and we do not need to build anything there, we can just make it a playground for children and not a playground for politics,” Tripathi said.

Azim, a 46-year-old resident of Ayodhya who too bore the brunt of the 1992 tragedy, said: “Hindus and Muslims have always lived in peace here. They still do.”

“Politicians and outside elements, guided by an agenda, try to drive a wedge between the two communities for political gains,” he added.

Ram Lochan, 45, a tarot card reader who puts up his stall near a tree on the way to Ram Janmabhoomi, said: “I want a temple to be built, but a playground for children would also be fine. Ram Lalla, after all, is the infant avatar of Lord Ram.”

Adityanath visited Ram Janmabhoomi on Diwali and offered prayers there.

Now, a statue of Ram Lalla is kept at the site, which attracts devotees from far and wide, including Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Bengal.

A multi-layered security arrangement is in place at the heavily fortified zone while shopkeepers nearby sell religious artefact and merchandise, including a CD on “Ayodhya Darshan”, which has clips of the 1992 Babri demolition, and a printed collage of photos depicting an artist’s rendition of a “proposed Ram temple”.

A police officer said around 20,000 people visited Ram Janmabhoomi on Diwali, almost double the footfall recorded on regular days.

Aravind S. and Vasanthi M., a couple from Eluru in Andhra Pradesh’s West Godavari district, were among the devotees who visited Ram Janmabhoomi for the first time.

“We both feel a Ram temple should be built here, it is the truth and a matter of our faith. But people should go by the judgment of the Supreme Court,” Aravind said.

The Supreme Court recently said an appropriate bench would begin hearing the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute cases in the first week of January. The bench will decide the schedule of hearing.

As many as 14 appeals have been filed against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment that suggested that the 2.77 acres of disputed land be partitioned equally among three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla. 

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