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Monday, 20 December, 1999, 15:30 GMT
Should the BJP tell its supporters to forget Ayodhya?

The highly controversial issue of Ayodhya is once again in the news. Seven years ago, Hindu hardliners demolished a mosque there, and vowed to build a Hindu temple in its place. The event raised yet again the spectre of communal violence which has haunted India for most of its modern history.

The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh state is now reported to have said he is committed to going ahead with constructing a temple - even though the leadership of the Hindu nationalist BJP appears to want to play down the issue. What should Prime Minister Vajpayee do? Can the hardliners be sidelined? Ayodhya should not be forgotten as it reminds people of the terrible consequences of religious intolerance. We have seen the pattern of attacks on religious minorities over the years in India. In the Sikh's Golden Temple and 37 other temples were attacked by an Indian Govt trying to whip up trouble in 1984. Recently Christian churches have been burnt down in various parts of India. It is time that Indian politicians worked on trying to solve problems such as poverty, AIDS etc. The remembrance of the Golden Temple, Ayodhya and Churches should prevent a decent into barbarity.
L Singh, USA

I think that Lord Rama's temple should be built as it is of great religious significance. There is a lot of evidence which shows that the place is the birthplace of the Warrior Lord Ram. But I think that because India is a secular country, a mosque should also be built there to bring people together and show the world that Indians (Hindus, Muslims , Sikhs , Christians of Indian origin) are a tolerant lot. Everyone born from the soil of Mother India is a peaceful, tolerant, happy being.
Niraj Thaker, London, UK

With a disaster in Orissa, we are worried about a temple/mosque which is only leading to more heartbreak and sadness. The time, effort, manpower and money should be used to relieve the suffering I think any GOD would prefer that. Justifying any action by using a previous wrong is still a wrong.
M P Rathore, USA

Every religion has its extremists, and every country has its own unique political conditions. India is much more a federation of states than a strong presidential democracy, so it is difficult to see how the BJP president Vajpayee can be blamed or stop the situation at Ayodhya. It should also be pointed out that Hinduism teaches tolerance towards other faiths, so a true Hindu could never support this action. What seems to have been forgotten here is what God wants, A mosque and temple together would be a powerful symbol of unity for India and would allow both faiths to feel comfortable in worship to God. God wants all of man to worship without fear, and excluding people from this basic right is not what religion is about.
Francis Anderson, UK

A simple, unostentatious temple should be built. The rest of the money should collected can be used for constructing schools/orphanages/old age homes.
Anirban Banerjee, India

The BJP should concentrate on development of the country instead of building temples and renaming city names.
Suresh Kumar, USA

This is not the way to build a happy and modern India by dividing any further. Lets work together for the sake our future India and forget the past bitterness.
Mahmood Rafiuddin, USA

I can't understand why religious zealots carry a country with India's potential away. The Indian constitution declares India as a secular state. I am sure that the money needed to build the Temple (which should not be built to begin with) should be used to alleviate the grief caused by the Orissa storm or should be used for economic restructuring which India so badly needs. If the BJP government goes ahead and builds a Temple in Ayodhya, I am sure it will lead to chaos and destruction in a lot of cities like the 1993 Bombay riots.
Matthew Parker, UK

I think the politicians should get off of this 'religious bandwagon' and get on with the real issues facing the country. It would have been admirable if the 'imbeciles' (politicians) showed equal enthusiasm in solving the real problems facing the nation.
Mohan Marette, Kerala (India) & USA

If the BJP is serious about leading India into the comity of civilised nations, it should boldly declare that Ayodhya will never be a part of its program. Otherwise this party will never represent the millions of Indians who are not Hindutwa supporters.
Vadakadathu Abraham, USA

In today's world, no one has the time to think whether the Temple is right or the mosque. We all should understand that, its time to move on and quit religious sentimental feelings. God help people who help themselves. Be it Hindu / Moslem / Sikh / Christian all fall in the same category. We can debate on more useful issues than even think about this stupid issue, which has wasted more economy and time than any incident of equal value across the globe.
Ravi Venugopal, USA

The demolition of Babri Masjid has left an indelible scar on the Muslim minds especially in India. It was a deliberate and a well thought off action to hurt the feeling of Muslims. These actions are still continuing in a more subtle way like appointing a self confessed killer of an innocent Muslim woman to an important government post, by targeting prominent and respected Muslim personalities of India and by changing the history books in order to incorporate their own fascist agenda. No, I can never forget the demolition of Babri Masjid and never forgive the people who condoned that act even silently. For me BJP will always be a monster because it is the product of even a bigger monster, RSS. They may change their appearance but their soul will always remain the same, anti-minorities, anti-liberal, anti-poor and anti-women.
Askar Mohammad, Canada

The BJP should understand that they are trying to let loose the madness of religion in India again, if they bring up the Ayodhya issue. Where will this end? The BJP may get votes whipping up the fanatics, in the process they are creating the Hindu Taliban. Haven't we learnt anything from Iran or Afghanistan ? Do we want to live in a country where some uneducated religious leader decides that the life of a cow is more important than that of a Hindu widow ?
P R Binoy, India

The temple is the symbol of Hindu religion and the cruelty of the Muslim rulers on Hindus. If Muslims give up Mecca and Christians give up Vatican, I think Hindus should give up Ayodhya. Muslim rulers have mercilessly destroyed more than 3000 temples in Indian subcontinent over 800 years. All Hindus ask is three of them back; Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura. Indian Muslim brothers should understand the feelings of Hindus and help to construct the Ram Mandir.
Shardool Vyas, USA/India.

A lot of unfortunate events happened in Ayodhya and many people exploited them for their own motives, by harping on about religion and building tension. Now India is relatively peaceful, we should forget the whole issue. I appeal to all politicians to leave the issue alone.
Prasad, India

The temple should be built as a correction for past wrongs.
Sanjeev Rathore, USA

The government should use the resources to build better schools in Ayodhya so that its people can set a stunning example to the rest of the world.
Ram B, USA

Destroying Ayodhya mosque was sheer madness when it took place in 1992.India's communities were torn apart as a result of this madness. We must forget this once and for all time and busy ourselves with providing many civic amenities, which are non-existent in most parts of India. Ayodhya mosque destruction and continuation of the episode is an " exclusive sport " of the corrupt elite of India, not its ordinary people.
Grandhi Nookayyasetty, Australia (Indian)

Can Christian's forget Bethelem? Can Muslims forget Medina? Hindus can never ever ever forget Ayodhya
MP Prasad, NewZealand

All religions say you shall not trespass what is not yours. I think it is more important that Mr. Vajpayee should spend the money creating a task force that will prevent, in future, a handful of bandits from disturbing the peace and freedom of religion of our brothers and sisters. Mr. Vaypayee should remember, that Temples, Mosques and Churches are made in remembrance of God, but if we do not follow what he says what good does another Temple or Mosque make? The temple should only be constructed if he feels God will approve of it, despite the slaughter of his (God's) own children.
Anubhav Sharma, USA (student from Zambia)

I do not understand one thing. I have read Indian history, where the Mughals destroyed 1000's of temples and made mosques on top of it and no one said/says nothing. When the Hindus destroy merely Just one mosque, why is this cry? If you try to balance the acts, the Muslims have destroyed 1000's of temples not only in India but also in Pakistan, Bangladesh and so on, Why doesn't the media talk about This?
Don Bosco, USA

The demolition of mosque was illegal, a back stabbing act by the then people in power. Building a temple at that place after doing all this is nothing but shameful and would always be sore in the eyes of Muslims for generations to come. Just like when the mosque was build there was a temple nobody forgot it, a temple back in that place would never get erased from peoples memory. Therefore lets forgive and forget what happened and do something which helps people living in India to live better.
Ashhar Madni, USA

There's no way that a temple can be constructed on that site. Many of my Hindu brothers had faced enough with this issue. And above all there is nothing written in BJP agenda this time. Let us work in a better way & see that this money reaches to the needy people out there.
Naushad, U.S.A

This wretched idea is a seven-headed monster that will refuse to die. Even if BJP asks its followers to forget it, there are those today who stand to gain at BJP's expanse. It will be to their benefit to keep stoking the fires. Now that the BJP is in power, it seems to be realizing that it is easier to open Pandora's box than to close it. I do not see this problem going away in the foreseeable future since too many people have a stake in it's being kept alive. I wish we had politicians who could look past their own noses at the emerging promise of India, and the damage they stand to do if this issue does not die a quick, unceremonious death. Maybe we should construct a national monument dedicated to the diversity of India. Maybe that will be the healing touch that binds warring faiths together. But Please, let's move on.
Vineet Thapar, USA

They cannot afford to since that is what brought them to power in the first place. They should simply keep it on the agenda by forming a sub-sub- committee and then bring it up once in awhile to distract the people's attention from their failures on tackling the real problems of the country.
Dilsher Sen, UK

They should build a small national monument there and move on...there are more important pressing issues related to the development of the country, education, poverty and health, not to mention lack of modern infrastructure. Come on guys - grow up and move on with life.
Fareed Jawad, USA

Logically speaking BJP should forget the Ayodhya. I am a supporter of BJP and feel that they should concentrate more on other issues like economic development which were entirely ignored by Congress for last 50 years. But unfortunately, for a large majority of BJP supporters this issue is the only reason they voted for BJP and BJP leaders are afraid that if they overlook this issue the VOTE BANK will vanish. I personally feel if BJP is confident enough of the REAL work they have done in last two years, they should forget this issue and concentrate on other important issues. If the BJP does not forgets this issue then the mature audience of Indian politics will derive the meaning that BJP is not confident about the work the party has done and still want to continue on the religion and not on the basis of performance.
Prasad M Kothare., India ( currently in Japan )

Don't get me wrong, I am not against building a new temple, but upon watching a documentary, we saw thousand of kids left on the street because their parents cannot afford to feed them. The money for the new temple should be given to charity, for better use.
Joan Margaret Cafane , France

Without a doubt Mr. Vajpayee should put his foot down and end this foolishness once and for all. The bottom line is that the crying needs of the majority of Indians are housing, jobs, education, etc. and not which God they pray to or whose ancestor committed what atrocity upon whom. The past is over and cannot be undone but the future can definitely be shaped.
Ken Bhandary, USA (Indian origin)

Yes, yes, yes. They should concentrate on economic reforms, building Infrastructure, Amending the constitution so that we will not have frequent elections and finding a peaceful solution in Kashmir.

Temple or a mosque, God is one and the same. India is already flooded with Temples, Mosques and churches. Even though I am a god-fearing person, I think we have enough places of worship already in our country. I would rather use those resources to improve the lives of the people of Ayodhya.
Ram B, US/India

Yes, Vajpayee can handle this communalist agenda, I myself a Hindu and want my country to develop industrially and economically. A few millions spent on a temple one would visit only twice or thrice in his lifetime, we could spend it on the children who do not get chance to get good education, food and proper care. If you care about your people, then for Lord Ram this will be greatest worship to him. He doesn't want exclusive temples for himself. If we try to follow his ideals as an ideal human being the world would be a better place to live.
Nitin, India

If the temple is to be built then an equally lavish mosque should be built in the same town. The only problem I can foresee in building the temple is that it sets a precedent for other mosques which are claimed to be on sites where temples once stood. If a temple in Ayodha is built then as far as any Hindu extremist is concerned all these other mosques can be illegally demolished and nothing will be done about it, instead a temple will probably be built a few years later. Such a cycle of events will only antagonise communal relations. If an acceptable solution is reached at Ayodhya for both sides (not likely), then this could set a good precedent for all these other potential flashpoints. Those who say that India is a secular state should realise that Indians tend to be very religious, as compared to the West, be they Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist or Sikh and therefore western values and solutions are not always relevant.
N.K. Khan, UK

I have spoken to numerous Hindus on this subject and I am sorry to say that they are behaving in a closed-minded manner. It's time to bury the medieval/religious thinking and think like modern humans.
Daud Sharif, USA via Pakistan

First of all the introduction at the top is a western view which really has no idea what the truth is. It is not controversial nor has it ever haunted any one in India except in the eyes of the western media. Fact, the Mosque was demolished because it is the birth place of Ram and a temple was erected. Since the Mogul days and the rule of Islam that temple was demolished and a Mosque was built. As far as I am concerned, it would be a good idea if a place of meditation and worship is built which embraces both Hinduism and Muslim culture.

NO, NO and never. I think India should concentrate on development.
Hemanth Kagnoor, USA

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See also:
06 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Protest over Ayodhya anniversary
08 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Vajpayee faces Ayodhya anger
14 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Vajpayee's Ayodhya assurance

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