New Delhi: Even as senior BJP politicians like Mahesh Sharma, Sakshi Maharaj, Adityanath and Sangeet Som have sought to make light of last week’s murder of Mohammad Akhlaq in Bisara village near Dadri in Uttar Pradesh, a number of sadhus and mahants from the holy town of Ayodhya have condemned the lynching of the 50-year-old Muslim man in strong and unequivocal words.
Akhlaq was killed when a mob attacked his home after an announcement was made over the local temple stating that a calf had been killed in the village.
Speaking to the Times of India, Acharya Satyendra Das, chief priest of the makeshift Ram Janmabhoomi mandir at the disputed Babri Masjid site said, “It is a crime against humanity and it is very sad. Such an incident should not happen anywhere in the country. Perpetrators of the crime must be punished.”
Das has been a vocal critic of what he has described in the past as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s attempt to play politics over the Ram temple issue.
Like Das, the other Ayodhya sadhus and mahants who spoke to the Times of India have frequently crossed swords with the VHP, RSS and BJP despite the Sangh Parivar’s vocal campaign over the years in favour of the construction of a Ram temple at the site where the Babdi Masjid stood before its demolition on December 6, 1992.
Mahant Bhavnath Das, chief priest at the Hanumangarhi temple and head of the Samajwadi Sant Sabha, told the newspaper: “We the Sadhu-Sants of Ayodhya stand in support of the Muslim community of the country. We want to ensure the Muslim brothers not to be scared of a handful of fascist forces. It is time now for the complete elimination of such communal forces.”
Mahant Bindu Gadyacharya, who heads the Bada Sthan temple at Ayodhya, said:
“When we heard about it, we arranged a special prayer in our temple for the deceased Mohammad Akhlaq. Those who have committed this barbarous act have not only defamed the tolerant and liberal Hindu religion, but also brought a bad name for the country in the rest of the world.”
Raghunandan Das of the Saryu Kunj temple, was equally forthright:
“It is not only a killing of a person, but a total collapse of the social values taught to us over time. Who can we blame for this? Is the government responsible, or the society, that is the question?”
Mahant Yugal Kishore Sharan Shastri, also a critic of the VHP, said:
“To show solidarity towards the minority community, we will take out a ‘Yatra’ from Ayodhya to Dadri and also to give a message to communal forces that we are united and against all such violent acts.”