Bhopal: Many social activists of Madhya Pradesh have demanded to defer the foundation stone in Ayodhya, scheduled for August 5.
In a letter written to the PM, activists raised concern over the pandemic. Highlighting few issues, the letter mentions that “As a rational and logical thinking Indians, we believe that the state should not be expending time and resources in religious practices especially at this time of a global health crisis, and especially the Prime Minister as a representative of the Government of India should be resisting from spending time and resources in religious practices especially in this controversial issue which has got the Supreme Court’s intervention.”
They affirmed that the Government must be following Article 51 which says to follow scientific temper and spirit of equity and believe that there is no extra scientist entity like God would save the country; rather government policies and focus on health would improve the lives of Indian citizens.
The letter appeals that the PM should invest in such government policies which ensures freedom from poverty, injustice, hunger, morbidity and mortality, superstition, violation of human rights, and take India forward on the real path of development which is sustainable and doesn’t harm the environment, as that is what can help the Indian citizens the most to counter the impact of the pandemic.
“We believe that programs to celebrate the laying of the foundation stone of the Ram Temple with the participation of the state, is in contravention of what the logical Indian stands for,” said ShivaniTaneja, director of Muskan NGO, Bhopal.
Such matter is not only a priority in the time of COVID-19, rather it will actively hamper efforts to contain the spread of the pandemic,” she added.
The signatories believe that permission for the event, in these times especially, and active participation of the state in religious matters at any time, defies all logic and constitutional principles and thus is far removed from what Indian citizens requirement. “Religion and State should remain two different entities in the country and by converging the two we put forth a dangerous example for the future,” said Darshan Bundele from Betul.
Ashish Sharma from Gwalior said the letter also tries to put across to all political parties and their elected representatives who in their political mandate or in their effort to walk the secular line have applauded the decision of conducting this program on August 5. Many Indians are not at all happy with such moves, and it is wrong to do this in our name.
It may be noted that the Ministry of Home Affairs issued Unlock 3 Guidelines as recently as on July 29th, which will remain in force till 31st August. The guidelines in Section 1 (V) clearly specify that a large public gathering continues to be prohibited. It further informs in section 7 that persons above 65 years of age are advised to stay at home throughout this lockdown 3 phase.
In fact, Section 9 says State governments cannot dilute the provisions by MHA and section 10 puts penal action against anyone who violates the guidelines. So, will the PM and other minister attendees also face penal action for violating the guidelines? Further, the Disaster Management Act is in place and Section 5 of the act suggests that optimum safety of people will be through avoiding the causes of hazard. Additionally, quarantine is expected to be maintained for a period of 2 weeks as people cross state boundaries.
Amidst all these preventive steps which are expected to be taken by the common public, chief ministers of different states, as well as Cabinet Ministers and the Prime Minister (a majority of whom are above the age of 65), have committed themselves to be on the list of people who will attend this program. We only need to go back a few months to understand how people of another religion were targeted for coming together in a religious congregation, held at a time when the COVID crisis had not even been acknowledged in the country, to understand what is today guiding our state. It is in this light that the letter calls upon the Prime Minister to scrap this plan immediately and prioritise the real needs of the people.
The social activists who have signed the letter include - Amarjeet Kumar Singh Anil Dhiman, Ankita Agarwal, Anjum, Arjun Singh, Braj, Dinesh, Dhruva Desai, Irfan khan, Irfan khan, Fiza, Krishna Yadav, Mahendra Mehra, Rafeeq Shaikh, Ragini Lalit, Ruchi S and Saba Khan.