02, Dec 2017
December 2, 2017
The Ram Janmabhoomi case: Activists, filmmakers ask SC to ensure no repeat of bloodshed
Group of citizens, including Teesta Setalvad and Shyam Benegal, submit plea saying the site be allotted for “non-religious” usage.
A week after RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat claimed only the Ram temple and “no other structure” will be built at the disputed Ayodhya site, 32 prominent citizens have filed an intervention plea in the Supreme Court saying the area should be allotted for “non-religious public use, irrespective of adjudication of the suit”.
The group, which includes activists Teesta Setalvad, Medha Patkar, Aruna Roy, Cyruz Guzder, Dolphy D’Souza, writer Kiran Nagarkar, filmmakers Shyam Benegal, Aparna Sen and Anand Patwardhan, actors MK Raina and Joy Sengupta, and photographer Ram Rehman among others, said in the plea that the Supreme Court should “use its special powers under Article 142 of the Constitution” to find a peaceful solution so that the final verdict does not trigger a fresh spiral of violence. Setalvad’s NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace has acted as facilitator in the intervention plea.
The Supreme Court is set to begin its final hearing in the Ram Janmabhoomi case from December 5, 25 years after the Babri mosque was demolished on December 6, leading to a countrywide movement for constructing a Ram temple and subsequent riots at several places.
“We want the Supreme Court to not treat this as just a property dispute, and instead recognise the ramifications of letting religion dictate the fate of a piece of land,” Setalvad said. “The outcome of this dispute, perpetrated and violent, has the potential to affect the very foundations on which the Indian democracy stands. It is time for the wounds caused by this conflict to heal and for peaceloving citizens to speak up for an inclusive and forward-looking solution, for this concerns the very soul of India,” she added.
The petition refers to the polarisation before and after the Babri mosque demolition and the riots in several cities including Mumbai. “The wounds are going to fester whichever way the court rules. One way for a peaceful solution is to allot the space for a non-religious public use and something that epitomises our constitutional values. We haven’t suggest anything specific but left it to the court to decide,” Setalvad said.
On November 24, while addressing the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP)-organised day Dharm Sansad conclave of Hindu religious leaders in Udupi, Bhagwat had said the moment of building a Ram temple at Ayodhya was “becoming a reality”.
“On Ram Janmabhoomi, the Ram mandir alone will be built. Nothing else. It will be built in the same form with the same stones and will be built by the same people who fought for it 20 to 25 years ago. Balasaheb (Thackeray) told us in 1990 that it will take 20 or 30 years. In 2010, it became 20 years. In 2020 it will be 30 years. The efforts have not gone to waste and the time is near. We have to take cautious steps forward,” the RSS chief said.
In 2010, the Allahabad High Court had ordered a three-way split of the 2.77-acre land, assigning one-third each to the Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara, and for ‘Ram Lalla’.