The laying of bricks with ‘ShriRam’ embossed on them, in drains around the Ayodhya Research Institute, was stopped today after protests by local saints and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
The Ayodhya Research Institute, that does not lie far from the famous Hanuman Garhi temple, is currently undergoing renovation as part of the larger revamp of the city.
On Saturday it came to light that the new drains which had been dug around the Institute were being lined with bricks on which was embossed ‘SriRam’.
As word spread, saints were quick to express their anger and call for punishment of those responsible for the sacrilege. They also criticised the municipal and district administration for its cluelessness in the matter.
The Municipal Commissioner of Ayodhya, Vishal Singh told the saints that the bricks bore the name of the brickfield from which they had been procured. The saints refused to be pacified by this explanation and demanded that they be removed.
Mahamandleshwar Prem Shankar Das said, “Lord Ram and his name - both are equally precious to Sanatanis. Among saints, we don’t even chant the Lord’s name without washing our mouths. To use that same name in drains is a sin.”
Mahant Shyam Sundar Das said, “This is thoroughly irresponsible and an affront to Hindus. Such a task can only be undertaken by those who oppose Ram. The government and the administration should suspend the involved contractor at once and punish him”.
Another saint, Mahant Dhanushdhari, was of the opinion that the entire mischief seemed to have been well-planned. “The Institute is a place where the Ramlila is played out, the Ram Katha read and research work done by scholars. This is unforgivable.”
The ‘anvarat’ (without stop) Ramlila that used to play out in the Institute bears a cultural heritage tag from UNESCO.
On Monday, after the work was stopped, Sharad Sharma, VHP spokesperson said, “The government and the administration should maintain constant vigil against the conspiracies of opponents. The uttering of Shri Ram is an antidote to all troubles, for believers. The central and state government should issue an order specifying that the use of such bricks for toilets and drains shall attract strict action. We complained to the local tourism and culture officials and the use has stopped. However, if such a misdeed is repeated, we shall file a case against the offenders”.