Hindus are not opposed to Muslims: RSS supremo rules out any more Ayodhya-type temple movements

“We participated in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement contrary to our nature, due to historical reasons and the needs of the time. We completed that task. We do not want to launch any other movement,” Bhagat declared firmly.

Jun 03, 2022
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RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat

With simmering communal tensions at several religious sites across northern India, the head of the Hindu nationalist fraternity has spoken out categorically against starting any more temple-mosque disputes, telling Hindu religious activists not to look for Hindu icons in every ancient mosque. 

In first remarks on the row over the reported discovery of Hindu religious icons in an ancient mosque in Varanasi - which also happens to be Prime Minister Narendra Modi's parliamentary constituency - with the implication that the mosque was built after destruction of the Gyanvapi temple by the 17th century Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, an issue that has now gone to court, Mohan Bhagwat, the head of the RSS, the ideological fountainhead of Hindu rightwing groups, including the ruling BJP,  said the RSS was not in favour of launching any other movement on these issues.


Addressing the concluding session of the RSS training camp in Nagpur, Bhagwat said the Gyanvapi dispute involves some issues of faith and the court’s decision on it should be accepted by all.

“Gyanvapi has a history which we cannot change now. We did not create that history. Not today’s Hindus, not Muslims. It happened then. Islam came here with the invaders. In these attacks, temples were destroyed to subdue the morale of those seeking freedom for this country. There are thousands of such temples. Issues of temples, which hold special significance in the hearts of Hindus, are now being raised,” he said.

“Hindus are not opposed to Muslims. The ancestors of Muslims were Hindus. Many feel that what was done (the demolition of temples) was done to break the morale of Hindus. A section of Hindus now feel that these temples need to be reconstructed,” he said, referring to several Hindu groups and individuals taking these issues to court to establish the existence of ancient Hindu temples that were destroyed by Muslims invaders and mosques built in their places. 

 

Archaeologists have found Hindu religious icons in several such mosques, leading to fears of new disputes between Hindus and Muslims like it happened in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh that led to the destruction of the Babri mosque in 1992, and where the present dispensation of Prime Minister Modi is building "grand Ram temple", that is expected to be the pride of Hindus, in its place. 

Bhagwat, who is highly revered by the Hindu nationalist fraternity, including Modi, who was a 'preacher' in the RSS, went on to say: “One should not raise a new issue every day. Why escalate fights? On Gyanvapi, our faith has been there for generations. What we are doing is fine. But why look for a Shivling (icon of Lord Shiva) in every mosque? What happens in mosques is also a form of prayer. Okay, it has come from outside. But Muslims who have accepted it are not outsiders, they need to understand this. Even if their prayer is from outside (this country), and they wish to continue with it, we are fine with it. We are not opposed to any form of worship),” he said.


He said the RSS was not in favour of launching any movement on the Gyanvapi issue — after the November 9, 2019 judgment of the Supreme Court on Ayodhya in favour of the temple, Bhagwat suggested that the Sangh would keep away from Mathura and Kashi and focus on “character building (vyakti nirman)” instead, according to Indian media reports. 

“We participated in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement contrary to our nature, due to historical reasons and the needs of the time. We completed that task. We do not want to launch any other movement,” Bhagat declared firmly. 

The Gyanvapi issue, he said, needs to be sorted out amicably between the two sides and if the two sides decide to go to court, they need to respect the court’s verdict.

“People need to sit together and reach a consensus on a way out. But this does not happen every time. If they go to court, then whatever verdict the court gives should be accepted by all. The Constitution and the judicial system are sacred, supreme and the decision should be accepted by all. Nobody should question the verdict,” he said.

 

Bhagwat's firm statement is expected to put a lid on attempts by Hindu hotheads to resurrect more temple-mosque disputes, but whether Hindu extremist groups, who have been very vocal in their anti-Muslim campaign, will pay heed, its difficult to tell. 

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said India is seeing increasing attacks on places of worship while releasing the latest US report on religious freedom around the world. Another senior US official said some Indian officials are ignoring or even supporting such attacks, the Times of India said. 

Blinken spoke about how the report highlights violation of rights in Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and other countries, while adding in the same breath that the report, beyond these countries, also documents how religious freedoms and the rights of religious minorities are under threat in communities around the world.

For example, he said, “In India, the world’s largest democracy and home to a great diversity of faiths, we have seen rising attacks on people in places of worship. ”

Rashad Hussain, the US ambassador at large for international religious freedom, added: “In India, some officials are ignoring or even supporting rising attacks on people and places of worship. ”

The annual report by the State Department, also known as the International Religious Freedom Report, describes the status of religious freedom, government policies violating religious belief and practices of groups, religious denominations and individuals, and “US policies promoting religious freedom in nearly every country and territory throughout the world”.

Blinken, after the recent 2+2 dialogue, had said in a joint press conference with Indian External Affairs Minister  S Jaishankar that the US is “monitoring some recent concerning developments in India including a rise in human rights abuses by some government, police and prison officials”. Jaishankar had responded later by saying that India too has its views about human rights in the US.

(SAM)

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