Mathura - Kashi: Will Temple Politics be Revived?

Ram Puniyani
September 18, 2020

When Babri Mosque was being demolished in broad day light, the slogan being chanted by the leaders was, Yeh to Kewal jahnki hai, Kashi Mathura Baaki hai (This is the beginning, Kashi Mathura are next on the line).  Supreme Court despite giving the same land to those who demolished the Mosque did call it a crime. The Ram Temple was used to the hilt for electoral purpose and for dividing the society along religious lines. The faith that ‘Lord Ram was born precisely at that spot’ was constructed. This constructed faith formed the base of politics and later the judgement of the Courts.

Having achieved this milestone of religious nationalism, now what next? As such there is no dearth of divisive issues, issues based around identity, issues which demonise the religious minorities, marginalise them and give a boost to sectarian nationalism, some of these are permanently on the agenda like, love jihad, (added on by land jihad, corona jihad, civil service jihad etc.) holy cow, large families, Uniform Civil code among other. There is a regular addition to such issues, through which the majoritarian politics aims to show the majority community as the victim of minorities.

In that sense the issue of Kashi and Mathura are potent issues, which can add on to the already existing plethora of identity issues. In Kashi, abutting the wall of Vishwanath Temple is Gyanwapi Mosque. Some say this was built at the time of Akbar and others say it was Aurangzeb during whose reign it was built. In Mathura, Shahi Idgah mosque stands next to Krishna janma Bhumi Temple. As per the section of Hindu belief the Holy Trio is Ram, Shiva and Krishna which are the most important deities. So the places of importance become Ram (Ayodhya), Shiva (Varanasi) and Krishna (Mathura) which are the three major places to be retrieved.

While the current narrative being popularized is that scores of temples have been destroyed by the invading Muslim rulers of these at least three have to be retrieved as per Hindu Nationalists. There have also been talks and formulations floating that Jama Masjid in Delhi and Jama Masjid in Ahmadabad are also the places, which have been built on Hindu places of worship. The temple destructions have been dealt with by many scholars of History and Archaeology. Temples have been destroyed for political rivalry, assertion of one’s rule and for wealth. It is not only Muslim kings who destroyed Hindu temples, some of them gave generous donations to Hindu temples. Firmans of King Aurangzeb tell us of scores of temple where he gave donations, to recount just couple of them- Kamakhya Devi in Guwahati, Mahakal in Ujjain, and Lord Krishna in Vrindavan. He also destroyed a mosque in Golconda when the local ruler refused to give him the tribute for three consecutive years.

D. D. Kosambi points out (Quoted in ‘Religious Nationalism’, Media House 2020, page 107) that Raja Harshdev of 11th Century Kashmir who appointed a special officer, Devottapatna Nayak, to uproot gold, silver and precious stones studded idols during his regime. Richard Eaton tells us about rival Hindu kings destroying the defeated opponents Kuldevata (Clan god) Temple to build temple of their own clan God. In Srirangatnam Maratha armies destroyed the Hindu temple and Tipu got it repaired! Somehow selective communal historiography has ensured the temple destruction becoming a major seed of divisive politics in India.

If we go a bit further back into history the clash between Buddhism and Brahmanism led to destruction of thousands of Buddha Viharas. Recently while levelling the ground for Ram Temple ground breaking many remnants of Buddha Vihar were found. Historian Dr. M.S. Jayaprakash points out “Hundreds of Buddhist statues, stupas and viharas have been destroyed in India between 830 and 966 AD in the name of Hindu revivalism. Both literary and archaeological sources within and outside India speak volumes about the havoc done to Buddhism by Hindu fanatics… many Hindu kings and rulers took pride in demolishing Buddhist images aiming at the total eradication of Buddhist culture.”

In this backdrop where do we go from here after we have seen the mayhem created around Lord Ram Temple in Ayodhya? The social and political fallout of the whole issue has pushed our democracy several steps backwards. It has relegated the religious minorities in to the cocoon of second class citizenship.

As Akhil Bhartiya Akhada Parishad has declared that it will initiate the campaign for liberation of Kashi and Mathura, it has also said that in due course the arms of Sangh Parivar will be asked to join in. At the moment RSS is saying that it is not keen on the issue, but it seems it is a matter of time when it will jump into the Kashi-Mathura fray and deepen the impact of the campaign to be launched by Akhada Parishad. Already calling the mosques as two “symbols of slavery”, BJP leader and rural development and panchayat raj minister in Karnataka K.S. Eshwarappa had said on August 5 that “a symbol of slavery disturbs our attention and points out that you are a slave”. He reiterated his stance and said, “… All Hindus across the world have a dream that those symbols of slavery should be removed on the lines of Ayodhya. The masjids in Mathura and Kashi will be destroyed too and temples will be rebuilt.” 

As such legislation is in place which states, “prohibit conversion of any place of worship and to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August 1947, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”

Temple politics has dragged us into the politics, which is against plural, democratic ethos. The success of right wing forces to increase their clout through Ram Temple campaign may further, prompt them to go in this direction, which is detrimental to the progress and development of the country. The hope is that the majority people oppose such issues being rekindled again.

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News Network
October 26,2020

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Shanghai, Oct 26: China reported the highest number of asymptomatic COVID-19 cases in nearly seven months, following a mass infection of an unknown origin in the northwestern Xinjiang region.

Xinjiang health authorities found 137 asymptomatic cases on Sunday amid a testing drive for the 4.75 million people in the Kashgar area triggered by an asymptomatic infection in a 17-year-old female garment factory worker reported on Saturday. It was not clear how she was infected, though all of the new cases were linked to the garment factory.

The woman’s case was discovered during routine testing but it was not clear why she was subject to such testing, Chinese media reported quoting health officials.

Contact tracing work to locate the origin of the outbreak is ongoing, the reports said.

A total of 20 new confirmed and 161 new asymptomatic cases were reported in the mainland on Oct. 25, China’s National Health Commission said in a statement.

The number of new symptomless infections was the highest since China began publishing daily counts starting from those reported on March 31.

More than 2.84 million people in the Kashgar area had already been tested for COVID-19 as of Sunday afternoon and the rest expect to be completed by Tuesday. The scale and speed of the testing is in line with those seen during other outbreaks including the most recent one in Qingdao earlier this month.

Though the number of new COVID-19 cases are down sharply in mainland China from the peaks seen in February, Beijing is wary of another wave of infections and maintains mass and rapid testing capabilities.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China to date now stands at 85,810, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

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News Network
October 19,2020

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India is likely to begin administering the first round of Covid-19 vaccines to healthcare and essential service workers in January, and pharmacists may be deployed to administer the vaccine in the second phase, according to a Business Standard report.

According to the report, which cites an official, India has enough trained vaccinators to administer the first shots of the Covid-19 vaccine to the first 3 crore people but may need more vaccinators as the government is targeting 30 crore shots by June 2021. The official also said that final-year MBBS and nursing students will need to be deployed in addition to the auxiliary midwife workforce, and healthcare workers.

According to the official, pharmacists are also likely to be roped into the vaccination programme as the government seeks to make it a mass movement.

Jagannath Shinde, chairman, All Indian Origin Chemists & Distributors, said that India's 8 lakh pharmacists will likely be enthusiastic if they are asked to participate in the vaccination programme and that they are already training people to administer insulin injections.

However, regulations do not permit pharmacists to administer vaccines, and changes may be needed to enlist them for the programme.

For training and certifying the vaccinators, the government may fall back to the Healthcare Sector Skill Council, a certifying organisation under the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, to prepare the vaccinator force for the programme.

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Agencies
October 24,2020

Lucknow, Oct 24: Notwithstanding the claims by the state government, crimes against women in Uttar Pradesh show no signs of abating.

A 16-year old girl was shot dead in UP's Firozabad district allegedly after she protested against her 'molestation' by three youths.

According to the police sources here, the youths barged into the house of the victim, who studied in 12th standard at a local school, in Prem Nagar area in the district late on Friday night and shot her dead.

''One of the youths, who carried a pistol, shot my daughter in the head killing her on the spot,'' the father of the victim said.

He said that her daughter had protested and threatened to lodge a complaint to the police, when the youths, who also hailed from the same locality, passed lewd comments on her while she was on her way back home from her school on Friday.

A named FIR was registered against the three youths and a hunt was launched to nab them, police said. ''We have formed three teams to nab the accused persons,'' said a senior police official in Firozabad.

The incidence of crimes against women has risen sharply in the state in the past few months triggering widespread outrage of criticism of the BJP government.

The incident comes close on the heels of alleged 'gangrape' and brutal murder of a woman in Hathras. 

The opposition parties slammed the BJP government in the state and said that the law and order situation had turned for the worse and that 'jungle raj' prevailed in the state.

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