Saturday, February 24, 2024

Ram temple: A country cheers for a temple built after demolishing a mosque

Photo: Aasma and Altaf/Maktoob

Aasma and Altaf

As the grand inauguration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya approaches, it unfurls not just as a celebration but as a haunting specter for India’s minorities, particularly its Muslim population. The foundations of this temple, constructed on the ruins of the demolished Babri Masjid, symbolize a painful past that refuses to fade, casting a dark shadow over the supposed secular ideals of the nation.

The Ram Janmabhoomi movement, often steeped in political maneuvering, has turned the construction of the Ram temple into more than a religious edifice – it is a potent tool wielded by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to consolidate power. The seemingly triumphant inauguration serves as a brazen announcement of majoritarian dominance, with leaders like Yogi Adityanath unabashedly proclaiming the advent of a “Ram Rajya.”

The relentless proliferation of Ram temple-related propaganda, from the streets to upscale markets, sends an unmistakable message that this celebration is not merely religious but a deliberate political statement. The overwhelming presence of saffron flags, posters, and the incessant drumming to “bajao dhol swagat me” creates an atmosphere that is, for minorities, reminiscent of a cultural onslaught.

Photo: Aasma and Altaf/Maktoob

The omnipresence of Narendra Modi’s image in this narrative reinforces the association of this event with the ruling establishment, making it impossible to ignore the heavy-handed political implications. As the country hurtles toward the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the Ram temple becomes a rallying point for the BJP, turning the once-hallowed space of worship into a symbol of divisive politics.

However, for India’s over 200 million Muslims, this grand celebration is not an occasion for joy but a stark reminder of a decade marred by Hindu majoritarianism. The sidelining of their sentiments, rights, and security echoes in the collective apprehension that now permeates their lives. The instructions to “lay low, stay indoors, and avoid travel” ahead of the inauguration reflect a deep-seated fear born out of historical violence and recent trends of Hindutva attacks.

The nationwide celebration organized by the BJP, accompanied by extensive media coverage and state backing, intensifies the disquiet among minorities. The Ram temple, rather than fostering unity, exacerbates the schisms within the nation, leaving its Muslim citizens grappling with a sense of alienation and vulnerability.

Photo: Aasma and Altaf/Maktoob

As India grapples with the fanfare surrounding the Ram temple, the celebration of a majoritarian deity temple serves as a stark departure from the inclusive and secular ethos that once defined the nation. The fears expressed by Muslim youths regarding potential violence on January 22 underscore the somber reality that, for many, the Ram temple represents not just a religious structure but a harbinger of an era marked by unease, division, and the erosion of pluralism in the tapestry of India’s identity.

Aasma and Altaf are students of MA Mass Communications at AJK MCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.

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