Shri Narendra Modi
Dear Shri Modiji,
I have come accross a news report today that a VHP-led “Rath Yatra” will begin shortly from Ayodhya and will cross six States, namely, UP, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. In view of the traumatic events that followed a similar “Rath Yatra” that culminated at Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, the latest news report causes serious public concern.
The Ayodhya events in 1992 led to the death of many innocent people, left a permanent scar on the social harmony that always characterised our great country and created avoidable scope for divisive forces to become strong. If VHP supported by senior BJP leaders were responsible for the mayhem, the ruling Congress leadership became a helpless observer.
It is all the more disturbing that the latest Rath Yatra is to be flagged off by no less than the Chief Minister of UP himself, who has far more serious concerns that he ought to be addressing at this moment!
The yatra is apparently envisaged to revive the movement to construct the Ayodhya temple. At a time when the apex court is engaged in adjudicating the Ayodhya land issue, any attempt to escalate the movement is a cause for concern. One gets the impression that the Yatra is planned to whip up public sentiment in view of the coming Assembly elections in some States and the General Elections in 2019. If that is the case, it is highly disturbing.
As a person residing in the South through which the yatra is expected to pass, I feel deeply concerned at the divisive impact that it will have on this otherwise peaceful region of the country. I believe that the Central government cannot and should not remain a passive spectator and condone the repetition of the 1992 Ayodhya mayhem. Such Rath Yatras, or for that matter similar campaigns by any other religious group, will have both short-term and long-term adverse implications for the country. Ours is an inclusive society and any attempt to cause divisions within it will not augur well for the people.
I request you to peruse the memoirs recorded by Dr Madhav Godbole, who was the Union Home Secretary when the Ayodhya incidents took place in 1992 and who opted to quit the government voluntarily on that issue. Though the Central governmrent could have intervened and put a decisive stop to the incidents that led to the violence, the then Prime Minister chose to watch the events helplessly. In Dr Godbole's words, “the only decision he (the Prime Minister) took was not to take any decision." At such a crucial moment like that, silence and inaction could cause disruption to the law and order situation in the country and erode the public confidence in the institution of the Prime Minister. Looking the other way, when one is in a position to intervene, could hurt the nation in such matters. The same goes for today.
I am sure that you and your colleagues in the government are equally concerned and will call a halt to the yatra immediately. Instead, as you did for Swach Bharat, you should encourage the people of the country to campaign on far more serious social concerns such as eradication of untouchability, elimination of manual scavenging, protection of women and children and upholding the concept of a united, inclusive nation.
E A S Sarma
Former Secretary to GOI
Email: [email protected]