‘Basing on Narasimha Rao government’s affidavit in SC, the disputed land can be handed over to Hindus to build Ram temple.’


New Delhi: While authorities are not willing to confirm about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposed visit to the ongoing Kumbh Mela at Prayagraj obviously for security reasons, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is however making full use of the occasion to raise the pitch for construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya. Top leaders of the outfit like Bhaiyaji Joshi and Indresh Kumar are making statements so as to put pressure on the government on the issue.

The Modi government, however, seems to be having some trick up its sleeve to save the situation if it comes to the worst on the temple front. It is said that the government has found a way to resolve the dispute and is completely banking on the angle being suggested by its Rajya Sabha member, Dr Subramaniam Swamy. And that is, construction of the proposed temple can be started right away at the disputed site, any day, without any legal hindrance.

The whole idea rests on the premises of what Dr Swami had divulged to The Sunday Guardian during an interview sometime ago (Constitution holds matter of faith above right to property: Dr Swamy; 30 September 2018). He had clearly told this correspondent that way back in 1994, the then P.V. Narasimha Rao government had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court that it would hand over the piece of land to Hindus to rebuild the temple if it was officially proved that there existed a temple at that very same place before the disputed structure came up there. The structure, which was known as Babri Masjid, was demolished by angry Ram devotees on 6 December 1992.

Elaborating on the sequence of events, Dr Swamy had said when he was the president of the Janata Party in 1990, Syed Shahabuddin was its general secretary as well as the chairman of Babri Masjid Action Committee. Then Prime Minister Chandrasekhar had asked them to find an amicable solution to the long-pending dispute. Shahabuddin had said that they (Muslims)  regarded Lord Ram as “Imam-e-Hind” and were prepared to give up their claim to the land if it was proved that there existed a temple at the site earlier and the mosque was built later.

“So we thought of engaging the experts of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to find out (the truth)… However, our government fell before we could do something concrete in the matter,” Swamy had said, adding that when Narasimha Rao came to power, his government had submitted the said affidavit before the Apex Court, which had included the declaration in the Ismail Faruqui case and referred it back to Allahabad High Court.

On the orders of the High Court, the ASI had put historians Prof B.B. Lal and Prof K.K. Muhammed on the job. “The duo carried out excavations at the site and found that a grand structure of a Vaishnav temple is lying buried there. Their findings are very much recorded in the judgements,” Swamy had said and revealed to this interviewer that Prof Lal had carried out a similar operation in 1976 too, but Indira Gandhi had stopped it midway, fearing a backlash if the truth would be out.

The veteran BJP MP had signed off saying: “As per the affidavit, the Uttar Pradesh government, which has been appointed as the receiver of the land in question, has to hand it over to the Hindus now. So it’s only matter of time that the court gives a verdict in our favour and a grand temple of Lord Ram is built at the very same site…”

The Narasimha Rao government had said in the affidavit that it “is committed to enforce a solution in the Ayodhya matter in the event that a negotiated settlement doesn’t come to pass, and that the solution would be dependent on whether or not evidence was found that a temple complex had existed at the Babri Masjid site.” It further said, “The acquisition of certain area at Ayodhya Act 1993 as well as the Presidential reference has the objective of maintaining public order and promoting communal harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst the people of India.”

“The government is committed to the construction of a Ram temple and a mosque, but their actual location will be determined only after the Supreme Court renders its opinion in the Presidential reference… The government will treat the finding of the Supreme Court on the question of fact referred under Article 143 of the Constitution as a verdict which is final and binding,” added the statement sworn before the SC in September 1994.

Swamy has also filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court seeking enforcement of his fundamental right under Article 25 of the Constitution to worship at the spot that Hindus believe is the birthplace of Lord Ram. Speaking to this newspaper on an earlier occasion (Efforts multiply to delay Ram Mandir verdict indefinitely; 21 July 2018), he had said, “I have moved the court to enforce my fundamental right to worship which is currently being violated. I want my right of worship as a Hindu in Ayodhya to be restored… I am optimistic that my fundamental right would be restored.”

In a cryptic tweet on 24 December 2018, Dr Swamy had said: “The Americans have a saying: ‘if an irresistible force meets an immovable object something got to give.’ If the Hindutva irresistible force meets the immovable Supreme Court object on Ram temple, the NaMo govt must give – action as per PVN Rao’s affidavit.”

It certainly was his subtle way of asking the Modi government to take this route to allow building a temple at Ayodhya as BJP is having its government at the state level too. On the basis of the 1994 affidavit, the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh can hand over the 60.70 acre of land surrounding the disputed site, acquired under Ayodhya Act in 1993 by the then government, to Hindu leaders who in turn can start construction of a temple where they believe Lord Ram was born.

Speaking to The Sunday Guardian on Friday, Dr Swamy said, “The Modi government doesn’t have to seek permission of the Supreme Court. It can declare that it has given the land to Vishwa Hindu Parishad to build a temple on the basis of its 1994 affidavit. The fight in the SC is for the title and a Constitution Bench of the court has already said that mosque is not an essential part of Islam. So a mosque can be shifted or broken, if the need be. Hence, the road is clear—we can give them (Muslims) some other land to do so and build the temple at this spot (in Ayodhya) because it was found that there is a pre-existing structure there.”

But it’s easier said than done. Encircled by forces bitterly inimical to it as well as its own core constituency vociferously blaming it for the delay in building the temple, the Modi government is trapped in the horns of a dilemma.

At the same time, the ruling dispensation is also presently facing an extremely precarious situation with all the Hindu leaders, including the Sadhus and Sants, raising a battle cry over the issue and serving ultimatums to it day in day out.

Meanwhile, all eyes are now on the Apex Court which will on 29 January reconstitute the Bench hearing all the petitions related to the dispute. Everyone is anxious to know as to who will be appointed as the fifth judge in the Bench now and when the new Bench will start the actual hearings.