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Pak condemns Ram Temple construction, gets a stinging comeback from India

The external affairs ministry dissed Prime Minister Imran Khan government’s statement on building the Ram Temple in Ayodhya

Updated: May 29, 2020 00:25 IST

By Shishir Gupta, Hindustan Times New Delhi

Uttar Pradesh, Oct 16 (ANI): A general view of Ayodhya City on Wednesday. Today is the last day for the Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid dispute case in Supreme Court. (ANI Photo)

India on Thursday responded sharply to the Imran Khan government condemning resumption of construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya earlier this month, describing a one-page statement put out by Pakistan’s foreign office as “absurd”.

The external affairs ministry also underscored that the Indian constitution, unlike the one that Islamabad had, guarantees equal rights to all faiths.

“Pakistan’s Foreign Office may take time out and read their own constitution to realize the difference,” the external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.

Srivastava also took a swipe at the treatment of religious minorities by Pakistan and a decline in their numbers over the years. “Given its record, Pakistan should be embarrassed to even mention minorities. After all, numbers don’t lie even if they do,” he said.

The Pakistan foreign office had on Wednesday condemned the start of work on the Ram Mandir, describing it as part of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) efforts to advance a “Hindutva agenda”. It also claimed that the Indian Supreme Court’s ruling last year had “failed to uphold the demands of justice” and its verdict had shredded the “veneer of so-called secularism” in India..

The foreign office statement is part of the continuing effort by Prime Minister Imran Khan to build a narrative, specially aimed at Gulf countries, that minorities in India weren’t safe. Over the last few months, Indian security agencies have identified thousands of handles based in Pakistan that had been trying to push this line on social media. One report submitted to the government last month had sent across a list of 7,000 such handles.

These handles, like the government in Pakistan and PM Imran Khan, had exaggerated isolated instances of harassment of minorities during the Covid-19 pandemic to launch a shrill campaign that was aimed at influencing India’s relations with the Gulf countries.

Islamabad’s condemnation attempt to attack the Supreme Court’s 9 November verdict that led to setting up of the Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Tirath Kshetra Trust, the external affairs spokesperson suggested that Islamabad clearly was not familiar with a credible judiciary.

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“As for the judiciary, Pakistan must realize that theirs is thankfully not the norm. There are others elsewhere with credibility and integrity that Pakistan understandably finds difficult to recognise,” Srivastava said.

Construction work for the Ram temple began at the Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya from May 11 after the Centre permitted the construction industry to resume work on projects. Since then, engineers have carried out testing of the soil around the sanctum-sanctorum of the Ram Janmabhoomi.

On Monday, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, chairman of the trust set up on the Supreme Court’s orders by the home ministry had visited the Ram Janmabhoomi after around 28 years and paid obeisance to Ram Lalla, the presiding deity of Ram Janmabhoomi. He had visited the place the last time on December 6, 1992.

The high-profile visit was interpreted by some people to signify the resumption of the construction work. Das told reporters that the artefacts recovered recently at Ram Janmabhoomi corroborated that Ram temple always existed at the Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya and that it was remodelled into Babri mosque by making some changes in the temple’s structure. A trust official had said a five-foot long rare Shivling besides a large number of statues of god and goddesses had been recovered from the site.


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