On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the formation of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust for construction of the proposed Ram temple in Ayodhya. The move came after the Cabinet cleared a detailed scheme for construction of the temple and development of its surrounding complex.
“My government has, on directions of the supreme court, prepared a detailed plan for the purpose of constructing a temple at the site of Lord Ram’s birth and other related matters. A proposal to create the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra Trust has been cleared,” said Modi amidst enthusiastic bench thumping by BJP MPs. The cabinet has also transferred the 67-acre land to the trust.
92-year-old K Parasaran, who represented ‘Ram Lala’ or the deity during the court proceedings will lead the trust that will have 9 permanent members and six others who will be nominated. The permanent members, other than Parasaran are:
Jagatguru Shankaracharya Jyothish Peethadheswar Swami Vasudevanand, Prayagraj (previously known as Allahabad)
Jagatguru Madhavarcharya Swami Vishwa Prasannatheerth, Udupi
Yugpurush Parmanand, Haridwar
Swami Govinddev Giri, Pune
Mahant Dhirendra Das, Nirmohi Akhara, Ayodhya
Vimlendu Mohan Pratap Mishra – a descendant of Ayodhya royal family
Dr Anil Mishra, Ayodhya
Kameshwar Chaupal, Patna
It is noteworthy that five out of the nine permanent members are religious ‘gurus’ and heads of important ‘maths’, while one is a lawyer, one a homeopathic doctor, one a descendant of the erstwhile royal family and only one is a Dalit. Chaupal, who belongs to a Scheduled Caste, had laid the foundation stone of the temple during a ‘sheelanyas’ or foundation ceremony organized by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in 1989. It is interesting that a government that has always tried to project itself as committed to gender justice has failed to appoint even one woman as a permanent member!
Now, on to the nominated members who are all required to be practicing Hindus. Who will be the other six nominated members? Here’s the list:
Ayodhya District Magistrate will be the ex-officio trustee. In case the DM is not Hindu, Additional Magistrate will sit on the board
One serving members of the Indian Administrative Services (IAS) of a rank no less than that of joint secretary to be nominated by the central government
One serving IAS member to be nominated by the state government
Temple trust will select two prominent persons by majority resolution
The board will also appoint an ex-officio chairman
Meanwhile, a 5-acre plot for construction of a mosque has been allotted to the Sunni Central Waqf Board. The sit is located at Dhannipur village located 18 kilometers from the district head quarters along the Ayodhya Lucknow highway.