New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday chose the Parliament to announce the formation of a trust for the construction of the Ram temple at Ayodhya, following the Supreme Court’s 9 November order.
In its judgment on the decades-old dispute, the apex court had given the Modi government three months to set up a trust to oversee construction of the temple.
Four days ahead of that deadline, the government has formed the trust and named it Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra.
“I am happy to announce that in the cabinet meeting today morning, we took significant decisions on the Ayodhya trust. As per the orders of the Supreme Court, we have set up a trust. The Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra will be the name of the trust. It will be an independent body,” Modi said in a statement in the Lok Sabha.
The announcement came three days before the Delhi assembly elections. BJP leaders have been increasingly speaking on polarising issues including the Ram temple at Ayodhya and the Shaheen Bagh protest against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act in their campaign for the 8 February polls.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Home Minister Amit Shah said the trust will be independent in nature, will full powers to take all decisions. He added that the body will have 15 trustees, one of whom will be a Dalit.
यह ट्रस्ट मंदिर से सम्बंधित हर निर्णय लेने के लिए पूर्ण रूप से स्वतंत्र होगा और 67 एकड़ भूमि ट्रस्ट को हस्तांतरित की जायेगी।
मुझे पूर्ण विश्वास है कि करोड़ों लोगों का सदियों का इंतजार शीघ्र ही समाप्त होगा और वे प्रभु श्री राम की जन्मभूमि पर उनके भव्य मंदिर में दर्शन कर पाएँगे।
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) February 5, 2020
श्री राम जन्मभूमि तीर्थ क्षेत्र ट्रस्ट में 15 ट्रस्टी होंगे जिसमें से एक ट्रस्टी हमेशा दलित समाज से रहेगा। सामाजिक सौहार्द को मजबूत करने वाले ऐसे अभूतपूर्व निर्णय के लिए मैं प्रधानमंत्री श्री @narendramodi जी को अनेक अनेक बधाई देता हूँ।
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) February 5, 2020
According to a source in the home ministry, a joint secretary-level officer will head the trust. The other members will include the district magistrate of Ayodhya, two members from the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas and one from Nirmohi Akhada.
Nirmohi Akhada, which is a body of seers, claims to be worshippers and devotees of Lord Ram for over seven centuries. It had staked claim to “shebait” rights over the disputed site, but the court had denied it.
The Vishva Hindu Parishad-affiliated Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas has been working towards the construction of the temple for over three decades now.
Meanwhile, in accordance with the top court judgment, the Uttar Pradesh government has also allotted five acres of land in Ayodhya to the Sunni Central Waqf Board for the construction of a mosque.
The land has been allotted in Dhannipur village in Ayodhya, about 18 km from the district headquarters, said an official in the UP administration who didn’t wish to be named.
Modi’s speech in Lok Sabha
Speaking in the Lok Sabha, PM Modi said his government has readied a scheme for the development of Ram temple in Ayodhya.
“We have decided that erstwhile disputed 67.703 acres of land, which includes the inner and outer perimeter, in Ayodhya will be given to the newly formed trust,” said the PM.
In his speech, Modi appreciated the restrained behavior of the people of the country after the Supreme Court verdict came out.
“After the verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi issue came out, the people of India displayed remarkable faith in democratic processes and procedures. I salute the 130 crore people of India,” said Modi.
Pointing out that his government is working for all, Modi said in India, be it Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist, Parsi or Jain, everyone is part of one family.
“Development must take place for every member of the family. Our government is moving forward with ‘sabka saath sabka vikas’ policy so that everyone is happy,” he added.
‘Happy with trust formation’
After its initial unhappiness with the Supreme Court order, RSS-affiliate Vishva Hindu Parishad has now expressed elation at the government move.
“We are very happy that the government formed the trust within the deadline set by the Supreme Court. We have not got any formal communication on whether we are a part of the trust or not, but we are just happy to know that it has been formed and the temple will soon be constructed,” he said.
Rai said the VHP only desires that the temple model that they had been working on for the past 30 years be accepted by the trust.
“We have been working on the construction of this temple for years and we really hope that the trust accepts and acknowledges our hard work. The temple model which was cleared by the saints years ago should now become a reality,” he said.
This year, the VHP is also set to organise a grand 15-day Ram Utsav in India and abroad around Ram Navami, the celebration of Lord Ram’s birth. The festival will begin on 25 March and continue until Hanuman Jayanti on 8 April. Ram Navami will fall on 2 April.