Wednesday, February 12, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

VHP wants disputed land too
Threatens to lay claim to mosques built over temples
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 11
Overriding its earlier demand for only the “undisputed land” in Ayodhya, the VHP today stepped up its aggression, asking the government to hand over the entire acquired area, including the disputed site, threatening that a denial could lead to claims on thousands of other mosques constructed over temples.

“We want the government to hand over to the Ram Janambhoomi Nyas the entire 77 acres of acquired land, including the disputed 80/40 sq ft plot by February 22 when the “Dharam Sansad” meets in Delhi.

“However, if the demand is not met either through a Parliament enactment or other means, it can lead to a people’s movement which can even lay claim to the thousands of mosques built after demolishing temples like Bhojshala in Madhya Pradesh and Bondangiri in Karnataka,” VHP Secretary-General Praveen Togadia told newspersons here.

Mr Togadia said the “Dharam Sansad” would take a decision on the next course of action regarding the Ram Janambhoomi movement on February 23.

“Not a single office-bearer from any state unit is coming to the Delhi meeting and they have been directed to be ready to launch the movement on any day after February 23,” he said.

To a question on the Centre’s move to get vacated the stay on religious activities on the acquired land in Ayodhya, he said, “We welcome any action that would pave the way for handing over of the acquired land and construction of the Ram temple.”

Asked why the VHP was mounting pressure on the NDA government, when the latter has moved court for early trial, Mr Togadia said “We are putting pressure on everybody, including Congress President Sonia Gandhi.”

On the decision taken by the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board to oppose the Centre’s move, he said, “Those who staged demonstrations against the Supreme Court in the Shah Bano case should not be talking about commitment to judicial verdict.”

Mr Togadia claimed there were “no differences” between the VHP and the Kanchi Shankaracharya on the Ayodhya issue and he had met the seer in Tiruchirapalli on February 8.

He claimed not to be aware of the government appointing Union Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi to mediate with the VHP on the Ayodhya issue. “We have had no formal talks with the government after March last year, he said.

On the VHP’s usage of the term “aar paar ki ladai” (now-or-never-war) on the temple issue, Mr Togadia had an apparent dig at Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s usage of the same words at the peak of the Indo-Pak standoff, saying that “I did not know there was a patent on words also.”

The VHP leader also sang a different tune on war clouds hanging over Iraq. “The US war against Iraq is a war between the world civilisation and the jehadis and fundamentalist Muslims and India would be the worst sufferer if it did not support the USA now,” Mr Togadia said.

He said India was jeopardising its economic interests by opposing the US plans to attack Iraq. In fact, supporting the USA at this juncture would be a good move in diplomacy.

Mr Togadia urged the Centre not to repeat the mistake committed by the Gujral government in 1990 when it supported Iraq during the Gulf war.

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