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Today when we tried to hold a Press Conference at the Ram Janki temple in Saryu Kunj, Vasishtha Kund, Ayodhya at 11 am at the venue of the two days meeting on communal harmony on 17-18 August, 2019, which was to be addressed by Professor Ram Puniyani, and which was not allowed to be held, to explain the purpose of the meeting, the press conference too was banned. Eigth people Acharya Yugal Kishor Shashtri, Faisal Khan, Sandeep Pandey, Javed Malik, Naresh Singh, Sunder Kaur, Shah Alam, Suresh Bhai and Salman Raini were packed in 3 police jeeps and dropped outside the District boundry of Ayodhya (earlier knows as Faizabad) at Ram Snehi Ghat, midway between Lucknow and Ayodhya, so that we could not talk to the press in Ayodhya and people who had come from outside would have to return to Lucknow. This is not just a curb on our freedom of expression it is also an attack on freedom of press because a press conference has been illegally prevented from being held without any written order. The arrogance of the police and government can be gauged from the fact that when Shashtri ji’s neice objected to a policeman walking with his shoes inside the temple, the police retorted that if they can go inside Golden temple in Amritsar with boots on why can’t they enter a temple here. They were politely reminded of the consequences of security forces having entered the Golden temple with shoes on. It is strange that our programme was banned on the pretext that it could threaten communal amity whereas the police is making provocative comments.

Earlier the police prevented the entry of Professor Ram Puniyani, Sandeep Pandey, Rajeev Yadav, Hafeez Kidwai, Ajay Patel, Eram, Ashish Yadav, Anurag Shukla, Ghanshyam, Salman Raini and Abhyudaya Pratap Singh on 17 August by detaining them at Raunahi, on way from Lucknow to Ayodhya to participate in the 2 days event. Mahant of Ram Janki temple Acharya Yugal Kishor Sharan Shashtri was detained and brought to Raunahi. Other participants were threatened to leave the venue. The police jeeps from Ayodhya followed the team which went from Lucknow to Runahi and then came to ensure that they returned to Lucknow. Such oversight is extraordinary.

We want to ask the district administration why is it feeling so insecure because of our programme. Only 40-50 invited participants were to attend it. It was going to be held inside a temple. It was not a public event nor was it widely publicised. Why did then the district administration ban it? It is an attack on our fundamental right to freedom of expression and freedom to form association. The meeting was organised by Sarva Dharam Sadbhav Trust and people associated with oraganisations connected to members of the Trustee Board were going to attend this meeting.

It is proposed to build a multi-faith harmony centre at the site of Ram Janki temple which can be conceived as a multi storeyed building with each floor meant for a religion in the chronological order in which they have come into existence with an empty hall at ground floor being reserved for atheists and possibility of fresh construction at the top for future religions.

The police says that in the backdrop of abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A in Jammu & Kashmir the atmosphere in the country has changed and hence our programme had become sensitive. Today’s attempt was the fourth attempt since 11th August when either some of us have been house arrested in Lucknow on the issue of proposed candlelight demonstration in support of people of Kashmir, or have been prevented from reaching the venue of our programme as in Ayodhya or from organising a press conference at Ayodhya.

We condemn the attempt by government to defame us by sensationalising our events and want to make it clear that our purpose is that a message of communal harmony must emanate from Ayodhya.

Acharya Yugal Kishore Sharan Shashtri, , Faisal Khan, , Sandeep Pandey

Members, Trustee Board, Sarva Dharam Sadbhav Trust

2 Comments

  1. The warning signals are clear. When a Kashmir-like repressive order can be imposed even in Ayodhya, it’s not too far away when it will be replicated in other parts of India. Let’s be
    prepared for being cut off from the rest of the world, as well as our families and friends, through the state banning of internet, mobile and other forms of communication, the house arrest of political opponents and curfew on the streets. Will our Opposition political leaders, instead of squabbling among themselves over petty personal and organizational problems, wake up to this larger threat and rally the masses against the BJP government’s malicious plans ?

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