NEW DELHI, Jan 6: Some Muslim leaders have expressed caution over politicisation and religious polarisation of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. The leading Muslim body the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, has voiced concern over the January 22 inauguration of the Ram temple becoming a “tool for political propaganda” and a “means of reaping electoral dividends.”
Speaking to the media, Jamaat’s vice-president Salim Engineer cautioned against attempts at polarisation in the name of the temple. “The remark by the general secretary of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust comparing the upcoming inauguration of the temple with our Independence Day is erroneous and mischievous. It tries to set an ‘us versus them’ narrative and polarise the country along religious grounds. The Jamaat-e-Islami Hind condemns such interpretations of the event,” Mr Engineer stated.
Referring to the upcoming ceremony at the temple built on the site of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya following the Supreme Court verdict, he said the event “should not be politicised, patronised and used to polarise.” He felt, “The consecration programme is becoming a glaring example of how religion can be misused by some politicians, a phenomenon that was consistently criticised by the ruling party but which now it is unabashedly indulging in.”
The inauguration of the Ram Mandir seems to have turned into a “BJP election programme” and a “political rally for the Prime Minister,” he claimed. The Jamaat leader called upon the ruling dispensation to adhere to the oath of office, which mandates them to “duly and faithfully perform the duties of the office without fear or favour, affection or ill-will, and uphold the Constitution and the laws” of the country.
“Things could have been different, had the event been managed by the temple trust. Politicians, bureaucrats, and elected representatives should have been told to keep away. There would have been no controversy, if the inauguration had been restricted to a strictly religious ceremony without any political speeches, posters and slogans,” he said.
He expressed concern at the “steady slide of our country from a constitutional democracy to an illiberal and majoritarian democracy.” “The narrative of hyper-nationalism and populism coupled with divisive rhetoric that targets religious minorities is leading to polarisation and the steady deterioration of pluralism and tolerance in society. The move towards “one nation, one language, and one culture” is turning India into an illiberal democracy and damaging our aspirations to become a world leader. Without justice and democracy in our backyard, our quest for global leadership may not materialise,” he claimed.
Meanwhile, Iqbal Ansari, the oldest litigant in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi case, was handed over an invitation to attend the January 22 consecration ceremony of the Ram temple. The invitation was extended by the members of Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust at Mr Ansari’s house in Ayodhya.
After receiving the invitation, Mr Ansari said Ayodhya was the land of religious harmony between Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, and Christian and the people of Ayodhya were happy with the construction of the temple. “I am delighted that the idol of Ram is going to be installed at the temple. Ayodhya is the land of Hindu-Muslim-Sikh-Christian harmony. Our unity will always remain intact,” he said.
Mr Ansari had showered flowers and stood in line to welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his visit to Ayodhya on December 30. He was also earlier invited for the ‘Bhoomi Pujan’ of the Ram temple. Iqbal is the son of Hashim Ansari, who was the eldest litigant in the land dispute case. After Hashim Ansari died at the age of 95 in 2016, Iqbal had started pursuing the case in court.