Islamabad, 23 January 2024 (TDI): In a strongly-worded statement on January 22, the Foreign Office of Pakistan expressed its deep concern and condemnation over the construction and consecration of the ‘Ram Temple’ on the site where the historic Babri Mosque once stood in the Indian city of Ayodhya.
The centuries-old mosque was tragically demolished on December 6, 1992, by a mob of extremists. Regrettably, India’s judiciary not only acquitted those responsible for this despicable act but also permitted the construction of a temple on the hallowed grounds of the demolished mosque.
The spokesperson criticized India’s superior judiciary for not only acquitting the criminals responsible for this heinous act but also for allowing the construction of a temple on the site of the demolished mosque.
The consecration ceremony is indicative of a disturbing rise in majoritarianism in India, as observers see the changes over the last 31 years. Nevertheless, many view these developments as a crucial element of ongoing efforts to socially, economically, and politically marginalize the Indian Muslim community.
Threats to Islamic Heritage Sites
The Foreign Office highlighted a growing list of mosques, including the Gyanvapi Mosque in Varanasi and the Shahi Eidgah Mosque in Mathura, facing a similar threat of desecration and destruction. The fear of losing cultural and religious heritage looms large, raising concerns about the protection of Islamic sites in India.
Furthermore, the spokesperson emphasized, “The rising tide of ‘Hindutva’ ideology in India poses a serious threat to religious harmony and regional peace.
The Chief Ministers of two major Indian states, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, are on record as citing the Babri Mosque’s demolition or inauguration of the ‘Ram Temple’ as the first step towards reclaiming parts of Pakistan.”
Plea for Safety and Security of Religious Minorities
Additionally, Pakistan called upon the international community to take cognizance of the growing Islamophobia, hate speech, and hate crimes in India.
“The United Nations and other relevant international organizations should play their part in saving the Islamic heritage sites in India from extremist groups and ensuring the protection of the religious and cultural rights of the minorities in India,” stated the Foreign Office Spokesperson in a statement.
In a final plea, the Foreign Office urged the Government of India to prioritize the safety and security of religious minorities, including Muslims, and their holy places.
For decades, the temple site was bitterly contested by Hindus and minority Muslims, leading to nationwide riots in 1992 that killed 2,000 people, mainly Muslims, after a Hindu mob destroyed a 16th-century mosque that had stood there.
The temple has been a key electoral promise of Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) which, for years, had advocated for the construction of a temple in place of the 16th-century mosque built by the Mughals in 1528.
In 2019, the Supreme Court handed over the land to Hindus and ordered the allotment of a separate plot to Muslims where construction of a new mosque is yet to begin.
It emphasized the importance of fostering an environment of tolerance and inclusivity to preserve the diverse fabric of India’s society.
Pakistan remains committed to promoting religious harmony and peaceful coexistence, hoping for a resolution that respects the rights and sentiments of all communities involved.