WHETHER RAM MANDIR BHUMI-PUJAN IS REQUIRED AMID COVID-19 PANDEMIC?

By- Aaditya Sinha

Fortunately or unfortunately, I am pursuing my undergraduate degree which is known as B. Tech LL.B. (Bachelor of Technology & Bachelor of Legislative Law). This course has a duration of six years, and honestly, I never wanted to pursue this course, but then as there is a saying that when one is bound to do something in life, the whole universe conspires to make that happen and one has no control over it.

I am not telling my story here, and I am very much sure that at least right now no one is interested in reading it as well, but my point was to tell the readers that since I am doing a combined course of B. Tech and LL.B. which are probably very different from each other. I have tried to find one main difference between the two and that is being “Binary” and being “subjective” respectively.

We human beings have created computers to provide a binary answer, in other words, to either get “Yes” or “No” but in law, nothing can be binary of course. There has to be judgment but that judgment can also be questioned because the law follows a precedent or one can say a hierarchy in legal systems. Law also has a provision of judicial review, so in other words, we can have many interpretations in one case by using different legal procedures.

I am actually trying to come to the point directly but I had to explain the readers about being “binary” and being “subjective”, because in this blog we are going to discuss that whether amid this pandemic, is it a good decision to have “Ram Mandir Bhumi-Pujan in Ayodha”.

I discussed the above points because I personally feel that today we all just want to have an instant answer, and I respect that we can have a poll on this issue too, where a binary answer will work, but in this blog, I will try my best to actually discuss the conflicts which I feel whenever I discuss this issue with myself.

Background

It is probably both possible and impossible that you don’t know anything about this case because I although am sure that almost everybody would have an idea of the temple-mosque debatebut I suspect how many people knew about the M. Siddiq (D) Thr. Lrs. v. Mahant Suresh Das & Ors case.

Don’t think too much, these both are the same; the only difference is that you must have heard about the former in the news channels and if you would have shown interest then you might have studied about the latter in a law book. Here, we all know that last year on 9th November the Supreme Court gave a judgment that the temple of Lord Rama will be constructed in the place where there was mosque (known as Babri- Masjid) and that the government will provide 5-acre land to the Waqf board for constructing the mosque.

This issue has always been a part of discussions, debate, faith, and many more things in our country. There were generally three opinions towards this case, one section of people wanted “Lord Rama Temple”; one section of people wanted the “mosque” which was there but was demolished by a mob and other probably more intelligent and diplomatic opinions that we should instead make a hospital or school there.

While you may have any opinion, but the thing is that after the judgment everyone has to agree to that decision, as I said there is a fine line in being “binary” and being “subjective”. Since independence, we had many subjective opinions but on 9th November, 2019 the nation got a binary judgment.

Current issue: Whether bhumi-pujan should be held in amidst of COVID-19

The current issue however is that after waiting for so many years the temple is finally being built and since faith is such a big thing for human beings, therefore, we all want the outcome very soon. A large section of our country or say the “Hindus” waited to see the temple in Ayodhya where Lord Rama was born.

However, since we all know today the whole world is suffering from a pandemic called COVID-19 and the idea of being normal has been completely changed. Our country was in lockdown for almost 2 months and even after lockdown, every State now has different rules on it. Some states are still in lockdown, some districts are in lockdown, etc.

However, a decision came and it said that there would be “Bhumi-Pujan” of Ram mandir (the first step in order to build any building or temple). Now, the point to be considered is that we are in a state of pandemic which surely doesn’t have a specific end date and our Government tried everything from lockdown to unlock but till today the graph is only increasing if we consider our nation as a whole.

We all know that India is a huge country both by population and by area and also it is culturally diverse; we have different languages, different religions, different cultures of the same religion, different castes, etc. I belong to one of those people who believe that there is nothing wrong in order to have different religion or caste, it is actually better because you can have interaction with different kinds of people. However, here the issue lies in the fact that is this decision correct today?

The legality of the whole issue

The law in this case is very plain and simple, it is upon the District Magistrates or any other equivalent magistrate who decides on the issue whether it is okay to put the lockdown or not. Under section 144 of The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the magistrates can restrict the number of people in a gathering. However, what’s interesting is that in this Ram mandir bhumi-pujan also, the police have said that gathering of more than five people will not be allowed.

According to some news portals, nearly 200 people are invited and the first person to be invited is Iqbal Ansari, the son of first litigant Hashim Ansari, who is now the litigant. There was also a report that 16 police officers and one junior priest were found COVID-19 positive, however, the district magistrate  “Anuj Kumar Jha” has said that the coronavirus situation is under control in Ayodhya and further security measures are being taken to prevent spread in view of the bhumi-pujan”

Conclusion

The truth is that at least according to me this debate should be discussed in a similar way as opening cinemas or schools or colleges. Now please don’t get me wrong, I understand that faith is a thing which is above all and it is also a thing which one section of people completely ignores, but the thing is that like if we want to open the theatres, we have to think about the part-time workers and about the audience, that how can we ensure that people will feel safe while coming to the theatre and then we can say that watching movies is not an important thing.

We have to understand this that maybe the world is changing post-COVID-19 pandemic, so, maybe we have to make our “new normal” as we know films are coming directly on the online platforms, education is being given on online platform, but one day may be probably we will have to open the theatres and schools but then I don’t think there would be a debate regarding that or at least there would be no conflicting opinion like this, so according to me whether to conduct the bhumi-pujan or not depends on the situation whether the magistrates are able take the things under control or not.

So, we should take this issue into account as a non-political issue and as an issue in which the administration can handle the situation or not. It should be taken into account if there is no problem in conducting the bhumi-pujan with minimum people and maximum restriction. If the administration cannot put such required restrictions then it is better to postpone it.

However this is also the issue of faith now again. There are those people who are atheists and agnostics can say that what’s the big deal, go to the near temple or do an online bhumi-pujan, but the truth is that if someone has faith that the only way to be “okay” is to go to the temple or church or mosque or gurudwara then we cannot have any arguments on that, because faith I believe is beyond argument.

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