By 2015, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) had announced that they were embarking on a drive to collect stones for the construction of the Ram Mandir. By 2017, truckloads of red stones had started arriving at the site, which were offloaded at workshops erected for the construction of Ram Mandir. The chiselling and carving operations are headed by Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, an organisation operating under the VHP, and headed by Nritya Gopal Das, an accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case. The temple, saffron parties claim, will be constructed by 2019.
Surendra Jain, international joint secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, in conversation with THE WEEK:
With the 25th anniversary of the Babri Masjid coming up on December 6, is the VHP reaffirming its commitment for a Ram temple at the disputed site?
Yes. Every day we are working for this. We have the support of every Hindu in the country. The RSS, the BJP, and Hindu seers are there to support us in this regard. The RSS has also passed a resolution that calls for building a grand Ram Temple in Ayodhya. By October 2018, the construction will begin. The 25th anniversary of the fall of the Babri Masjid will be celebrated as 'gaurav divas' from now onwards. Babri Masjid was a symbol of shame. We are happy it is no longer there. The mosque was constructed by a foreigner. December 6 will be remembered as India's victory over the cruel foreign powers of the past.
Is the VHP in favour of an out-of-court settlement?
Yes, we were in favour of it. But the Muslims opposed it. A Muslim body said the role of the chief justice of the Supreme Court was to pronounce judgement, and not talk about out-of-court settlements. We are okay with anything. Now that the Muslim community has opposed it, we will also wait for a favourable verdict.
How helpful is it to have a BJP government in Uttar Pradesh, and the Centre?
Of course, it help us. It gives us the vigour and confidence to go forward and speak for Hindus and temples. The governments of Uttar Pradesh and the Centre have been elected to also take care of the rights of Hindus. Both the governments are duty bound to help us in all our goals, and they are doing just that. As days progress, we want even more support from them.