NEW DELHI: The Centre on Wednesday constituted an independent 15-member Trust to oversee the construction of a “grand and magnificent” Ram temple in Ayodhya, an announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha four days before the expiry of a 3-month deadline set by the Supreme Court.
The announcement of a “broad scheme” for developing a Ram temple and formation of a Trust named ‘Shri Ram Janambhoomi Teertha Kshetra’, that came ahead of the Delhi assembly polls, was made by the prime minister, shortly after a meeting of the Union Cabinet presided by him gave its approval.
In a rare occasion, Modi spoke in the Lok Sabha as soon as the House convened at 11 am, telling members he wants to share information on a “very important and historical subject for the country.”
“This topic is close to my heart like millions of countrymen and I consider it my great fortune to talk about it,” he said.
Since Parliament is in session, the government decided to inform the House on the important decision taken by the Cabinet.
Union minister Prakash Javadekar said it would be incorrect to link the Cabinet decision to the Delhi Assembly polls this Saturday. The Election Commission on Wednesday said its approval was “not required” for the government to announce the trust.
Modi said the Cabinet decision was in line with the direction by the Supreme Court in its verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case on November 9 last. The apex court settled a long-festering religious issue and allowed building of a temple at the disputed site where many Hindus believe Lord Ram was born. It also fixed a 3-month deadline for the Centre to form a Trust.
“On the basis of the SC directive my government has today given the approval for a broad scheme for the building of a grand and magnificent Ram temple at the birth place of Lord Ram at Ayodhya and constituted an independent trust named ‘Shri Ram Janambhoomi Teertha Kshetra’ to oversee its construction.
“This Trust will be empowered to take independent decisions on construction of the temple and other related subjects,” the PM said. The Trust, which will have its registered office in Delhi, will have a representative from the Dalit community.
The government named members of the trust, officials said.
The y include senior lawyer K Parasaran, Jagatguru Shankracharya, Jyothishpeethadheeshwar Swami Vasudevanand Saraswati Ji Maharaj from Allahabad, Jagatguru Madhavacharya Swami Vishwa Prasannatheerth Ji Maharaj, Pejawar Math in Udupi, Yugpurush Paramanand Ji Maharaj from Haridwar, Swami Govinddev Giri Ji Maharaj from Pune and Vimlendra Mohan Pratap Mishra from Ayodhya.
Besides, the following will be the trustees, Anil Mishra, a homoeopathic doctor from Ayodhya, Kameshwar Chaupal from Patna who is a Scheduled Caste member, and Mahant Dinendra Das, Nirmohi Akhara, Ayodhya Baithak.
Two prominent people who shall be practising Hindus will be nominated by the board of trustees with a majority resolution. One representative will be nominated by the Centre who shall be a practising Hindu by religion and a serving member of the IAS and who shall not be below the rank of joint secretary to Government of India and shall be an ex officio member.
One representative will be nominated by the UP government who shall be a practising Hindu and an IAS officer and not below the rank of secretary to the UP government and shall be an ex officio member.
The Ayodhya district collector will be the ex officio trustee who shall be a practising Hindu.If for any reason the incumbent collector is not a practising Hindu, the additional collector of Ayodhya who shall be a practising Hindu shall be an ex officio member.
The chairman of the committee for the development and administration of matters relating to the Ram Temple complex, who will be appointed by the Board of Trustees, who shall be a practising Hindu, shall be an ex officio member.
The prime minister also said that on the directions of the apex court the Centre has requested the UP government to allocate 5 acres of land to the Sunni Waqf board, and it has acceded to the request. The SC while settling the Ayodhya dispute asked the Centre to allot an alternative five-acre plot in a “prominent” location in the Hindu holy town for constructing a new mosque.
Modi said that keeping in mind the construction of the temple and the spirit of the devotees who would come to pay obeisance to Ram Lalla in future the Government has taken another important decision to transfer the whole of the approx 67.703 acre acquired land to the new Trust.
“We all know the historical and spiritual significance that is attached to Lord Ram and Ayodhya, in the Indian ethos, spirit, ideals and culture.
“Let us all support construction of a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya,” he said, amid shouting of “Jai Shri Ram” slogans from the treasury benches.
The UP government gave the allotment letter to the Sunni Waqf board for the land in Dhannipur village in Sohawal tehsil in Ayodhya on the Lucknow highway, about 18 km from the district headquarters, state government spokesperson Shrikant Sharma told reporters in Lucknow.
The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath earlier in the day.
“I thank PM Modi for constitution of a trust for construction of a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya. This trust will be fully independent and capable of taking all decisions on temple construction. Jai Shri Ram,” the chief minsiter tweeted in Hindi.
In a notification, the Union Home Ministry said the Trust will have its registered office in Greater Kailash locality, an upscale area in south Delhi.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said there will be 15 trustees in the new body and one of them will be from the Dalit society.
Shah congratulated the prime minister”for such an unprecedented decision” that strengthens social harmony.
“I fully believe that the waiting of millions of people for centuries will be over soon and they will be able to pay obeisance to Lord Shri Ram in his grand temple at his birthplace,” he added.
Shah thanked the prime minister for his commitment for construction of a temple dedicated to Lord Ram, “who is a symbol of faith and unwavering reverence of India”.
“Today is a day of immense joy and pride for the whole country,” he said in another tweet.
Modi also used the announcement in the Lok Sabha to reach out to different sections against the backdrop of the ongoing protests over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Modi said in India, be it Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Parsis or Jains, everyone is a part of one “broad family”.
“Development must take place for every member of the family. Our government is moving forward with the mantra of ‘sabka sath sabka vikas’ so that everyone is happy,” he said.
Seeking to emphasise the importance of the announcement, Modi repeated twice “Aayee Aayee” (Come come) before urging all members to support in one voice the construction of the Ram Temple.
Modi said after the verdict on the Ayodhya issue was pronounced, people displayed remarkable faith in democratic processes and procedures.
“I salute the 130 crore people of India.”
Replying to a question at a post-Cabinet meeting briefing, Javadekar said the decision on the temple in Ayodhya has nothing to do with Delhi Assembly polls.
“The whole country is not under elections. Let us not confuse the situation,”he said.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray congratulated the prime minister for implementing the apex court’s decision.
VHP international president Vishnu Sadashiv Kokje hoped that the Ram temple would be built on the model proposed by the Hindu body earlier. PTI