Thursday, April 12, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Temple existed de jure: Advani
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 11
In a new twist to the Ayodhya controversy, the Union Home Minister, Mr Lal Krishnan Advani, today asserted that temple already existed ‘de jure’ in Ayodhya and ‘Hindutva’ and ‘nationalism’ were synonymous.

“From 1950 to 2001, namely 51 years, what stands there is a temple. First, a de facto temple and today a temple which is de facto as well as de jure,” Mr Advani said, while deposing before the Liberahan Commission.

Justice M S Liberahan has been probing the sequence of events leading to the demolition of the disputed structure on December 6, 1992, in Ayodhya for the past eight years.

Mr Advani said, “You call it Indianness, Bharatiyata or Hindutva - I view these words as essentially synonymous. The basis of our nationalism has been a silken bond of culture and when we participated in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement it was to strengthen this bond,” adding ,that even the Supreme Court has said that Hindutva did not mean a religion, in fact it meant a way of life.

“I have been pleading with the supporters of the Ram Janmabhoomi, who occasionally announce that from this date onwards we will start reconstruction of the temple and telling that at the site there at Ram Janmasthan, there is nothing but a temple,” Mr Advani stated.

The dharam sansad held during the Maha Kumbh in Hardwar in January this year has given the Vajpayee government to clear “all hurdles” for the construction of temple before April 2002.

He said the superstructure was that of a mosque and he regarded it as significant that even the government in its White Paper did not refer to it as a mandir or a mosque but only as a disputed structure.

Mr Advani said, “This is not something that anyone else but the courts have decided.....the court’s order is status quo, it cannot be changed. This is an order, which in a way, confers on the place recognition as not only a de facto temple but a de jure temple as well.”

To emphasise his argument, the Home Minister read out a portion of the Faizabad Civil Judge’s order in 1950. “From 1936 onwards the Muslims have neither used the site as a mosque nor offered prayers there and .... the Hindus have been performing the puja at the disputed site.”

Mr Advani said, “From 1950 onwards it had not become any major issue so much so that Central Government and the state government, both belonging to the Congress Party, seemed to cooperate in the locks on the temple being removed and ‘shilanyas’ being performed.”

However, when the commission counsel asked Mr Advani that by describing the disputed structure was he not trying to legitimise its demolition as a legal fait accompli and not merely as a physical fait accompli, the Home Minister said. “So far as courts are concerned I am a humble citizen. I would like to emphasise that I am not using this word as against the possibility of courts deciding something else finally in this regard.”

Mr Advani said while the Congress government allowed opening of the locks of the disputed structure and performance of shilanyas, the problem began only when some section of the Indian population thought it proper to set up the Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC).

“While on the on hand the site was important for Hindus as it was believed to be the birth place of Ram, the opponents of the movement chose to give importance to the idea that the mosque was built by Babar,” he said.

‘‘After the demolition of the disputed structure several organisations and political parties in their first reaction stated that ‘we shall rebuild the mosque’. However, no political party has ever spoken of rebuilding the mosque subsequently even during the elections held in Uttar Pradesh in 1996, 1998 and 1999’’ he added.

“This showed that by and large it had come to be accepted that on the place believed to be the birth place of Ram, there is only a temple,” he said.

The Union Home Minister had led a rath yatra in 1990 from Somnath to Ayodhya. However, the yatra was stopped at Samastipur in Bihar.

The rath yatra by Mr Advani, regarded as a hardliner within the BJP, resulted in the party increasing its electoral tally from two seats in Parliament in 1989 to 184 in 1991.

The deposition of Mr Advani would continue next month on May 14 and 15.


Advani’s statement false: Cong
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 11
The Congress today said Union Home Minister L.K. Advani’s deposition before the Liberahan Commission was full of “polished falsehoods.”

Accusing him of being consistent “only in hypocrisy,” party spokesman Jaipal Reddy said Mr Advani had confined himself to regrets on the issue of destruction of the structure in Ayodhya and had not condemned it.

“Yesterday also, he shed crocodile tears but did not condemn it,” Mr Reddy said. Quoting from Mr Advani’s 1997 article in ‘BJP Today,’ Mr Reddy said that Mr Advani had said the Babri mosque was a continuous ocular demonstration against the Hindus and that the ocular provocation was no longer there was not a matter of regret.

Mr Reddy alleged that Mr Advani had not even been consistent in his expression of regrets. “His presentation yesterday is a classic case of main conspirator posing like a helpless spectator.”

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