Hindu monks, activists rally in New Delhi demanding Ayodhya temple

The Hindu hard-liners are building pressure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to move quickly on the issue. (AP)
Updated 09 December 2018

Hindu monks, activists rally in New Delhi demanding Ayodhya temple

  • The calls for a new temple in the northern town of Ayodhya come ahead of an election that must be held by May 2019, when Modi will seek a second term
  • Ahead of Sunday’s rally, police stepped up security, with organizers expecting hundreds of thousands to participate

NEW DELHI: Thousands of Hindu monks and activists linked to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party gathered in the Indian capital New Delhi on Sunday to urge the government to build a temple at the ruins of a 16th century mosque.
The calls for a new temple in the northern town of Ayodhya come ahead of an election that must be held by May 2019, when Modi will seek a second term.
Most analysts expect his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to fare far less well than it did in 2014, and critics often accuse the party of using communal issues to whip up support.
For the past three decades, the BJP and Hindu outfits associated with it have resurrected the Ayodhya controversy before elections, stoking tensions between Hindus and a Muslim minority who make up 14 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people.
In 1992 a militant Hindu mob tore down the centuries-old mosque in Ayodhya, triggering riots that killed about 2,000 people across India in one of the worst outbreaks of communal violence since Partition in 1947.
Most Hindus believe the warrior-god Ram was born in Ayodhya, and Hindu groups insist that there was a temple there before a mosque was built by a Muslim ruler in 1528.
Hindu monks want the government to introduce a legislation to pave the way for a temple, said Sharad Sharma, spokesman for the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), or the World Hindu Council, a group that has close ties with the BJP.
“It’s an issue of faith for millions of Hindus who cannot endlessly wait for a temple at the birthplace of Lord Ram,” he said.
Both Hindu and Muslim groups have petitioned the Supreme Court to help resolve the issue. The top court has sought more time to give its verdict.
The BJP and VHP and their parent movement, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, have asked the government to issue an executive order to build a temple, bypassing the Supreme Court.
Late last month, tens of thousands of Hindu seers, their followers and political activists had gathered in Ayodhya to press for their demand for a temple.
Ahead of Sunday’s rally, police stepped up security, with organizers expecting hundreds of thousands to participate.
Uttar Pradesh, the state where Ayodha is located, has suffered repeated outbreaks of communal violence since Yogi Adityanath, a BJP hard-liner seen as a potential successor to Modi, became chief minister last year.
Earlier this month, a senior police officer and another man were killed in violent protests in the state over reports that a cow, an animal sacred in Hindu culture, had been slaughtered.


Hague hearing offers ray of hope to Bangladesh’s Rohingya

Updated 10 December 2019

Hague hearing offers ray of hope to Bangladesh’s Rohingya

  • International Court of Justice seeks to address atrocities committed by Myanmar

DHAKA: Several members of the Rohingya community in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar expressed optimism on Monday that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) would rule in their favor once it began its three-day hearing against Myanmar on Tuesday.

The case was filed by Gambia on behalf of all Muslim nations from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) with the ICJ over the alleged persecution of the Rohingya by the Myanmar military.

On Nov. 18, the court decided to hold the hearings from Dec.10 to 12. Gambia’s justice minister will lead his country during the hearings.

Both Canada and Bangladesh have been supporting Gambia by providing different data and information regarding the atrocities against the Rohingya.

Myanmar’s state councillor and its de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has already reached  the Netherlands to lead the defense lawyers on behalf of her country at the ICJ.

Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque will remain present at the courtroom to witness the process.

He will lead a 20-member team, comprising government officials and civil society representatives.

Rohingya at Cox’s Bazar are highly optimistic of securing justice at the ICJ.

“We think justice will be ensured because all international human rights groups, different UN organizations and the international community have got evidence of the persecution on the Rohingya. All of them have visited the refugee camps many times and listened to the plight of the Rohingya,” Sawyed Ullah, a community leader from Jamtoli, told Arab News.

“Also, we have strong evidences of atrocities committed by the Myanmar government to root out the Rohingya from their birth place, Rakhine,” Ullah added.

“Without ensuring accountability, there will not be any safety and justice in Rakhine. Once the accountability is restored,  all of us will be able to go back home.”

Ramjan Ali, another refugee from the Kutupalang camp, said: “Myanmar’s government has forcibly displaced the Rohingya from their own land and that compelled us to shelter here at the refugee camps. Isn’t it enough evidence to justify our allegations against the Myanmar government?”

Ramjan Ali added: “Still the situation in Rakhine is very bad as we receive information from our relatives over there. We need protection from the international forces before any repatriation, and the ICJ’s decision will be helpful for us in this regard.”

Rohingya human rights activist Nay San Lwin, co-founder of the German-based Free Rohingya Coalition described the ICJ’s move as historic.

“It is first ever since we are persecuted. We have been seeking for justice since very long time,” Lwin told Arab News, adding that “finally the case is now at the world court and although it will take several years we are now excited for provisional measures from the court.”

Lwin, along with some 200 Rohingya rights activists from around the world, is set to hold a protest rally at the Hague from Dec. 11 during the ICJ’s hearing.

“We are expecting very much from the ICJ. Regardless whether Myanmar follows the decisions of the court this will have a huge impact. There won’t be any other justice mechanisms if this international court of justice can’t ensure the justice for us,” added Lwin.

Expressing his frustration on the repatriation process, Lwin said that the Myanmar government still had a “genocidal policy” on the Rohingya.

“I don’t think repatriation of the Rohingya will take place soon unless the government is considering to fulfill our demands,” he said.

The ICJ’s final decision will hold strong significance as any decisions taken by the ICJ are binding on member states.

Both Gambia and Myanmar are signatories of the Genocide Convention.