Monday, January 28, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


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Ayodhya issue: ball in Law Minister’s court
Hand over temple site by March 12, says VHP
Tribune News Service

VHP leader Ashok Singhal
VHP leader Ashok Singhal arrives at Prime Minister's residence in New Delhi on Sunday. — PTI photo

Followers of the VHP
Followers of the VHP during the Sant Chetavani Yatra at the Ramlila grounds in Delhi on Sunday. — Tribune photo Mukesh Aggarwal.

A group of sadhus raise slogans
A group of sadhus raise slogans at a rally organised by the VHP at the Ramlila grounds in New Delhi on Sunday.
— PTI photo

New Delhi, January 27
In a significant decision which could have its implications in the coming Assembly elections in UP, the Vajpayee government today decided to examine the legal and constitutional aspects of handing over the undisputed plots of land around the disputed site, acquired by the Centre in 1993, in Ayodhya.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, on whom a delegation of saints led by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders Ashok Singhal and Vishnu Hari Dalmia, called on here decided that the Union Law Minister Arun Jaitley should examine how to get the related court cases expedited as also the “legal and constitutional aspects of handing over the undisputed plots of land to the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas (Trust)”, NDA Convener George Fernandes told newspersons.

Mr Fernandes, the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani and Minister of State in the PMO, Mr Vijay Goel, were also present at the meeting.

The political compulsions of Mr Vajpayee, who is leading a coalition government, on the communally sensitive Ayodhya issue was evident when Mr Fernandes clarified that the government or the Prime Minister had never given any assurance that the dispute would be resolved by March 12.

“He (Mr Vajpayee) had only expressed a possibility and it (time limit) was not an assurance, but proposed that this should be done at the earliest,” Mr Fernandes said.

Stating that there were two ways to resolve the dispute, Mr Fernandes said it could either be resolved through dialogue and “a mutually acceptable agreement between representatives of Hindu and Muslim communities” or through the acceptance by both sides of the court verdict.

“There is a problem which is accepted by everybody. Every government has made its own effort to resolve it but met with no success. We are in the course of an effort here,” Mr Fernandes said.

“Ideally” the matter should be resolved through a dialogue which would be “a meeting of minds and hearts. If that happens, it will be the finest thing which can happen to a nation,” he said, adding the two sides would have to sit together and “the government can only facilitate such a meeting but not be a party in it”.

Asked whether the Prime Minister was consulting other parties in the dispute as well, he said “those efforts at the informal level .... will continue”.

He said the VHP delegation “expressed dismay” that the courts were taking too long to decide on the status of the disputed plot of land in Ayodhya. They also urged Mr Vajpayee to consider a legal and constitutional way to hand over the undisputed land, which had been acquired by the Centre, to the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas.

The delegation demanded that the government consider a legal way to hand over the land, which was acquired by the Centre and not under any dispute, to the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas.

The nine-member delegation also warned that temple construction would begin after the “deadline” or March 12, Mahant Ramchandra Paramahans Das, the only living party to the legal dispute, said, adding “We did not bring much pressure on the government as there is still time for that deadline to expire.”

He insisted that the Prime Minister had earlier sought time till March 12 for finding a solution to the issue and the temple would be constructed after that date irrespective of the government’s view or the court case.

Failing to get a concrete assurance from the government, the VHP leaders and saints associated with the temple construction told the VHP-sponsored congregation of sants “Sant Chetavni Yatra” at Ram Lila grounds that the construction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya will begin from March 12 irrespective of the Centre’s response on the issue.

Realising that the yatra was a test of strength ahead of the launch of temple construction, the VHP leaders and dharmacharyas used the platform to whip up passion of people towards it saying “no power on the earth could stop the construction of the Ram temple...neither the Government nor the Court”.

“Mandir banane se hame koi nyayalay ya sarkar nahin rok sakti (no court or government can prevent us from constructing the temple),” said Mahant Paramhans Ramchandradas, President of the Ram Janmabhoomi Trust, amidst the chanting of “Jai Shri Ram” by the massive crowd.

Stating that he was still alive to see for himself the construction of Ram Temple, he said “As a sadhu my duty is to ask and to whichever Prime Minister I asked (for the land) either passed away or had lost power. So, I don’t want to ask anything from Mr Vajpayee.”

VHP International President Ashok Singhal said “We cannot give any more time to the government beyond March 12. I hope Mr Vajpayee would be able to convince his NDA allies on the issue by that deadline.”

“In any case, the construction work for the temple would begin on a ‘shubh mahurat’ anytime after March 12,” he added.

In an indirect attack on Mr Vajpayee, Acharya Dharmendra from Jaipur said the politicians, government and MPs come and go.

“He (Mr Vajpayee) is a Prime Minister today because he was present at the VHP congregation on the issue at Boat Club. If he had not participated in that he would not have become Prime Minister,” he said.Back

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