OIC denounces opening of Ram Mandir on site of demolished Babri Masjid in India’s Ayodhya

Published January 23, 2024
Hindu devotees gather near the illuminated Ram temple following its consecration ceremony in Ayodhya in India’s Uttar Pradesh state on January 22, 2024. — AFP
Hindu devotees gather near the illuminated Ram temple following its consecration ceremony in Ayodhya in India’s Uttar Pradesh state on January 22, 2024. — AFP

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Tuesday denounced the construction and inauguration of the ‘Ram Mandir’ built on the site of the five-century-old Babri Masjid in India’s Ayodhya.

At a grand event attended by some seven thousand guests a day earlier, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi consecrated the idol of Lord Ram at the new temple built on the site where the Babri Masjid stood for centuries before it was demolished by a Hindutva mob in 1992.

The demolition had triggered the worst religious riots in India since independence — killing 2,000 people, most of them Muslims — and shook the foundations of the country’s officially secular political order.

But for Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the opening of the Ram Mandir was a landmark moment in a decades-long campaign to align the country’s governance with its majority faith.

Pakistan condemned the grand celebrations and described the temple’s inauguration as a “symbol of growing majoritarianism and an affront to the Muslim community in India”.

The developments of the last 31 years in India, leading to the consecration ceremony, are “indicative of growing majoritarianism in India”, the Foreign Office (FO) had said in a statement.

Calling the new temple “a blot on the face of India’s democracy”, the FO had also expressed concerns over the future of other mosques in the country, including the Gyanvapi Mosque in Varanasi and the Shahi Eidgah Mosque in Mathura that are also facing threats of desecration and destruction.

The inauguration was also met with criticism in India, levelled by opposition parties over turning the event into a grand spectacle and the “state-sponsored assault” on the pan-India peace march headed by Congress’ Rahul Gandhi in the BJP-ruled Assam state.

In a press release issued today, the OIC — a 57-member bloc of Muslim countries — expressed “grave worry” over the construction and inauguration of the temple at the site of the razed Babri Masjid.

“In line with the OIC position expressed by the Council of Foreign Ministers in its previous sessions, the General Secretariat denounces these actions aimed at obliterating the Islamic landmarks represented by the Babri Mosque, which has stood tall in the exact location for five centuries,” it said.

Hindus throng Ram temple as it opens for public

Meanwhile, in Ayodhya, tens of thousands of Hindus braved biting cold to pray at the new temple — a site believed to be the god-king’s birthplace.

Hindu groups, the BJP and its affiliates have portrayed the opening as part of a Hindu renaissance after past centuries of subjugation by Muslim invaders and colonial powers.

“I was adamant about this … I will only leave after I have seen my Lord Ram,” one of the visitors, Guddu Shukla, who queued at the temple gate at 4am in temperatures of about 8 degrees Celsius (46 degrees Fahrenheit), told news agency ANI.

He was among more than 50,000 devotees who lined up before dawn today to enter the temple, among some 200,000 who arrived in the city after the consecration, said a government official, Murli Dhar Singh.

“Devotees inside are hugging the temple walls and crying,” said another worshipper from central India, who did not give his name.

“If you are a true follower of Hindu tradition, you’ll have tears in your eyes, because that idol represents the 500-year long struggle,” he added.

Police on social media urged people to stay away from the temple area because of the large crowds there and diversions on the route.

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