Ayodhya temple talk fanning polarization in India

Indian Hindu hardliners participate in a rally calling for the construction of a temple on the site of the demolished 16th century Babri mosque, located in Ayodhya, in New Delhi on Dec. 9, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 10 December 2018
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Ayodhya temple talk fanning polarization in India

  • Ayodhya has been the scene of deadly riots and communal violence between Hindus and Muslims after a mob tore down a mosque in 1992
  • The contested site is under the control of the Supreme Court, which is to examine a 2010 ruling that divided it into three parts

NEW DELHI: Talk of building a Hindu temple at a disputed religious site is a deliberate attempt to create “communal polarization,” India’s main opposition has warned.

The eastern city of Ayodhya has been the scene of deadly riots and communal violence between Hindus and Muslims after a mob tore down a mosque in 1992, saying there was a temple on the site beforehand.

Tens of thousands of Hindus, including senior government-linked figures, converged at Ayodhya on Sunday to demand the construction of a temple at the site.

But the opposition Congress accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and its parent movement the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), of stoking tensions ahead of elections next year.

“Look at the timing,” Congress spokesman Sanjay Jha told Arab News, “the BJP always raises this polarizing issue before a major election. The matter is coming up before the Supreme Court and there is an attempt by the RSS and other organizations to build pressure before that.”

The contested site is under the control of the Supreme Court, which is to examine a 2010 ruling that divided it into three parts. One part was given to Muslims and two parts to Hindus.

“The BJP government has not achieved much in the last four-and -a-half years. All sections of society, ranging from farmers, businessmen to marginalized communities, are in distress. By raising the temple issue the BJP and its paternal organization wants to hide their failure. There is an attempt to deliberately create a communal polarization in the country,” said Jha.

The head of the RSS, Suresh Joshi, told Sunday’s rally there should be a law for a temple to be built at the site and that the BJP should deliver on its commitment.

“Every individual and organization has the democratic right to raise issues of public concern,” BJP spokesman Sudesh Verma said.

“The RSS is well within its rights to make such a demand, more so when a party committed to the construction of a grand temple at the site of the makeshift temple in Ayodhya is in power at the center.”

A New Delhi-based political analyst, Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, said the BJP was spoiling for a fight.

“The party wants to use the temple issue as a hot topic and exploit the religious sentiments of the people for political gains,” he told Arab News. “Ayodhya remains an emotional issue for people in India. In the next elections the BJP will mix the temple issue with other issues and play it out to garner votes. The build-up has already started.”


India seizes one ton of ketamine on boat, arrests six Myanmar crew

Updated 22 September 2019

India seizes one ton of ketamine on boat, arrests six Myanmar crew

  • India’s coast guard seized $42 million worth of ketamine

NEW DELHI: India’s coast guard has arrested six Myanmar men and seized $42 million worth of ketamine after spotting a suspicious vessel in the Indian Ocean near the Nicobar Islands.
The 1,160-kilogram drug haul came after coast guard aircraft spotted the boat, which had its lights off, on Wednesday in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the defense ministry said in a statement.
The boat’s crew did not respond to radio calls and the coast guard eventually boarded it, with officials finding “57 gunny bundles of suspicious substance” on Friday.
“Preliminary analysis ... revealed that the suspicious substance was ketamine and there were 1,160 packets of 1kg each onboard the vessel,” the ministry added.
The six Myanmar men and cargo were taken to Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where they were questioned by investigators.
They claimed they left Myanmar on September 14 and were due to rendezvous with another boat “operating near the Thailand-Malaysia maritime border line” on Saturday, the statement said.
The Nicobar Islands are located near Southeast Asia, off Myanmar’s coast.
Parts of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand are in the lawless “Golden Triangle” zone, the world’s second-largest drug-producing region after Latin America.
Large amounts drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine are churned out in remote jungle labs each year and smuggled across Asia and beyond.