PM Narendra Modi on his way to Ayodhya
PM Narendra Modi on his way to Ayodhya
PMO India

A handful of groups in the United States are protesting the plans to beam portraits of Lord Ram and the images of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya across Times Square on August 5, The Wire reported on Wednesday.

The report said that activists from groups such as Coalition Against Fascism in India, Hindus for Human Rights, Ambedkar King Study Circle and Indian American Muslim Council.

The groups have reportedly written to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio against what they call an ‘Islamophobic billboard set to be projected in Times Square in order to dehumanise Muslim New Yorkers and celebrate human rights abuses against Muslims in India’.

The protest called Fight Hindutva At Times Square was shared by Hindus for Human Rights on its Facebook page. It says, “A naked display of fascism is planned for tomorrow at Times Square, when its digital billboards will be taken up to further the toxic politics of the Ram Mandir. To find out more about why there is nothing holy about this, watch this video.”

Meanwhile, the Indian American Muslim Council on its Facebook page, while sharing an article written in the Washington Post said, “Thus Aug. 5 will become another infamous date for Muslims in India — a day of increased repression in Kashmir, with the added insult of a grand function in the city of Ayodhya, where the Babri mosque’s destruction led to a nationwide attack on Muslims in 1992.”

The temple is being built on the site where mobs destroyed the Babri Masjid in December 1992, sparking communal violence across India. History, however, shows that there has been dispute over the land since the 16th century.

Histroy shows that Mir Baqi, Mughal emperor Babur’s commander, destroyed the pre-existing Ram Mandir in 1528 and built the Babri Masjid on the very site. Archaeological evidence and historical texts exist to prove that a standing temple was destroyed and its material was reused to build a mosque. However, it was in 1853 that the first incident of violence between Hindus and Muslims over the site was recorded. During the reign of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Awadh, the Nirmohis - a Hindu sect - claimed that a temple had been destroyed during Babur's times and a mosque was built in its place. Later, in 1859, the British - who were then ruling the sub-continent - erected a fence. They allowed Muslims to pray in the inner court while the Hindus were given the outer court.

In 1986, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi ordered to remove the locks on the then contested site. Meanwhile, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) had launched the Ram temple movement around the same time. It was also in 1986 when a local court ordered the government to open the site for Hindu worshippers. However, the Allahabad HC ordered maintenance of status quo in 1989.

There is no hiding from the fact that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) encashed the issue. The saffron party with 2 MPs in 1984 was taking gigantic strides in the Indian political landscape, thanks to their committed resolve for the issues they believed in and which mattered to their core Hindu voters. The then party president LK Advani launched a rath yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya and galvanised even the fence-sitters. And on December 6, 1992, the mosque was razed.

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