‘Does the Government of India have a religion?’: Owaisi asks in Parliament

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led Union government tabled the Ayodhya Ram Temple resolution in Lok Sabha, which is the lower house of the Parliament on Saturday, February 10.
‘Does the Government of India have a religion?’: Owaisi asks in Parliament
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Questioning the participation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the consecration of Ram temple in Ayodhya, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) President Asaduddin Owaisi on Saturday, February 10, asked if the Narendra Modi government belonged to only one particular community, religion or the entire country. The lines between the State and religion blurred during the Ram temple inauguration on January 22 with the active interference of the BJP-led union government in the festivities. The Indian Air Force, which stays away from religious events, in an unprecedented manner showered flower petals on the temple premises during the event.

The Union government tabled the Ram Temple resolution in Lok Sabha on Saturday. Speaking in the Parliament, the Hyderabad MP in speech asked: “Does GoI have a religion? I believe that this country does not have a religion. Through January 22, does this government want to give a message that one religion triumphed over the other? What message do you give to the 17 crore Muslims in the country?,” he asked. The Ram temple was constructed on the site of the 16th century Babri mosque which was demolished by kar sevaks in 1992 following the Ram Janmabhoomi campaign spearheaded by veteran BJP leader LK Advani. 

Read: How Rajiv Gandhi fell for bad advice to open Babri Masjid locks in 1986

Responding to BJP MP Nishikant Dubey’s remarks who sought to know if the AIMIM leader would consider Babar as an invader, Owaisi said, “Am I a spokesperson of Babar, Jinnah or Aurangzeb? I respect Lord Ram but I hate Nathuram Godse because he killed the person whose last words were Hey Ram,” said Owaisi.

Accusing the Prime Minister of bias, Owaisi also asked whether when the PM replies to the discussion, he would be speaking for 140 crore Indians or only those supporting Hindutva.

Speaking about the  Union government’s decision to confer Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award, to Advani and former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao who allowed the kar sevaks to gather near the mosque despite having intelligence reports, Owaisi asked whether it was justice or injustice.

Read: Faith, frenzy and trail of riots: Role of undivided Andhra Pradesh in Babri demolition

The Hyderabad MP referred to a resolution passed in the Lok Sabha on December 6, 1992 that condemned the disintegration and demolition of the Babri Masjid. He said India currently needed people like Maulana Ameer Ali and Baba Ramcharan Das from Ayodhya who fought against the British and laid down their lives. BJP’s Rajendra Agrawal, who was in the Chair, said there was no discussion regarding the demolition of Babri Masjid. The discussion was on Ram temple which was constructed after the Supreme Court’s verdict, he added.

The Babri mosque, built in 1528 by Mir Baqi, commander of Mughal emperor Babur, was demolished by kar sevaks belonging to Hindu majoritarian outfits on December 6, 1992. The demolition, which happened as a result of a concerted Ram Janmabhoomi movement, resulted in communal riots over months, which led to over 2,000 deaths. The Babri Masjid has been a contested site since 1885 as religious leaders and Hindutva outfits considered it Ram Janambhoomi or the birthplace of Lord Ram.

A legal fight ensued in 1950 when Gopal Visharad Sharma approached the Faizabad district court for the right to worship idols of Ram Lalla, which were placed there in 1949. On September 30, 2010, the High Court, in a 2:1 majority, ruled a three-way division of the disputed area between the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara, and Ram Lalla.

Nine years later, the Supreme Court granted the entire 2.77 acres of disputed land to deity Ram Lalla and directed the Uttar Pradesh government to allot five acres of land to Muslims for building a mosque. Though the Supreme Court referred to the mosque’s demolition as “an egregious violation of the rule of law”, the verdict was criticised for accepting the logic of “faith over fact” and granting legal possession of land to those responsible for the demolition.

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