Rama Setu: bombing Ramayana and asking for s’aranaagati

Two headlines in Kannada Prabha summarise the events described in the URL of about 80 pages: http://kalyan97.wordpress.com/2007/09/15/745/

One said: Ramayanakke bomb (Bomb on Ramayana itself)

Another said: Ramaa, tappaayitu, kshamisu (Rama, we did a mistake, pardon us)

This is false s’aranaagati without appreciating the sentiments of millions of people for whom Sri Rama is vigrahavaan dharmah (the very vigraha of dharma).

kalyan

Sethu project: Centre to consider alternative alignment

J. Venkatesan

Seeks three months time to take final decision


Withdraws counter-affidavitsGovernment has taken note of wide-ranging public sentiment


New Delhi: In a major development, the Centre on Friday informed the Supreme Court that it would consider executing the Sethusamudram shipping channel project through an alternative alignment so that the 30-km-long Ramar Sethu/Adam’s Bridge could be protected from damage.The feasibility of alternative alignments would be considered in three months, Additional Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam told a Bench consisting of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice R.V. Raveendran. It was hearing a batch of petitions filed by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy and others seeking a direction to protect and declare Ramar Sethu a national monument.

The ASG said, “The Central government has taken note of the wide-ranging public sentiment, which has been expressed in respect of the decision to proceed with the construction of the Sethusamudram shipping channel. The Central government has total respect for all religions and Hinduism in particular in the context of the present case.”

He said the government would review the matter. A mechanism would be set up to consider objections/suggestions from petitioners and others, and a final decision on the alignment would be taken in three months.

Affidavits withdrawn

In view of this, he said, the Centre and the Archaeological Survey of India decided to withdraw the entire counter-affidavits filed on September 10/11 and sought permission to do so. He said, “The Central government is also keen that its decisions bind and bring society together, rather than cause any disruption in the religious and social psyche of one true India.”

The Centre had stated in one affidavit that the studies conducted by the Geological Survey of India between December 2002 and 2005 also conclusively established that Adam’s Bridge was a natural geological formation comprising compact clay, calcareous sandstone and fossiliferous limestone.

On the plea for an alternative alignment, the Centre had said “the alignment No.6, which is the present alignment of the Sethusamudram project, has been validly resorted to after a due consideration of all relevant factors, including ecological factors. None of the other alternatives which are suggested by the petitioner are viable alternatives.”

The ASI had submitted that there was no evidence to prove “the existence of the characters or the occurrence of the events” in the Ramayana. On Thursday, Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj announced that the objectionable portions in the ASI affidavit would be withdrawn and a supplementary affidavit filed on Friday.

When the matter was taken up, the ASG said, “We have decided to withdraw the two affidavits,” and placed before the court new submissions.

Dr. Swamy said certain documents in the government’s possession should be made available to him. The ASG replied that whatever documents or material in its possession would be given on receipt of an application.

Senior counsel K.K. Venugopal and M.N. Krishnamani, appearing for petitioners Dandi Swami Sri Vidyananda Bharati and Ramagopalan, said the government must consider their suggestions. The ASG said it would consider all points of view and take a final decision.

Recording the submissions, the Bench extended till January 2008 the August 31 interim order, which said “the dredging activity may be carried out, but till September 14 the alleged Adam’s Bridge/Ramar Sethu shall not be damaged in any manner.”

It posted the matter for further hearing in the first week of January 2008.

http://www.hindu.com/2007/09/15/stories/2007091558150100.htm

Ram Setu bungle: Top ASI officials get axed

CNN-IBN

Published on Saturday , September 15, 2007 at 08:45

http://static.ibnlive.com/pix/sitepix/09_2007/sspc_248.jpg DIVINE INTERVENTION: The Govt withdrew its affidavit which said there was no scientific proof about the Ram Setu.

New Delhi: In the wake of the controversy over the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) affidavit filed on the Sethusamudram case in the Supreme Court, two senior officials of the ASI were suspended on Friday.

According to sources, two senior ASI officials – an assistant director of the team and the other a director of the administration – were suspended after an inquiry was ordered by the Secretary of the Union Culture Ministry.

The suspension was approved by Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni. However, preliminary inquiry has shown that the said affidavit was vetted by the Ministry of Culture and Law.

The ASI affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, which said there was no historical or scientific proof about the existence of Lord Ram or Ram Setu as a man-made bridge, had set off a huge political storm with the BJP accusing the government of hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus.

The Government promptly went into a damage control exercise following a directive from Congress President Sonia Gandhi and withdrew its two affidavits from the Supreme Court.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balkrishnan said that the August 31 interim order that put construction on hold in the Ram Setu area will continue. The government has sought three months time from the court and has said it will examine the issue.

But despite the Government’s efforts to save face, the BJP continued their aggressive stand over the ASI affidavit.

BJP demands an apology

The Congress avoided a major political setback with the party top brass realising early that targetting Hinduism could become a poll issue.

“To err is human but to rectify immediately is divine,” said Congress Spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi on Friday.

However, the BJP stuck to its demand that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi apologise for the controversial affidavit on Ram Setu, and described its withdrawal as an outcome of “Hindu outrage.”

“The withdrawal is no abatement of the seriousness of the issue. We regard this affidavit as a crime, blasphemy. Both the Prime Minister and the Congress chief owe an apology to the country,” said BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar.

http://tinyurl.com/yogvsq

Two ASI Officials Suspended Over Ram Setu Controversy

New Delhi: Two functionaries of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have been suspended over Ram Setu affidavit controversy.

One of the suspended officials was the director administration whereas the other was of the grade of assistant director.

Both were accountable for the drafting of the affidavit with the divisive citations to Ram that resulted to a storm of protestations.

On Friday the administration withdrew its affidavits and stated the Supreme Court that it would like to brush up the Sethusamudram project with the intention that the Ram Setu will not be troubled.

http://tinyurl.com/28xajn

BJP insists on apology from PM, Sonia on Ram Setu issue

New Delhi, Sept. 14 (PTI): The BJP today stuck to its demand that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi apologise for the controversial affidavit on Ram Setu, and described its withdrawal as an outcome of “Hindu outrage.”

“The withdrawal is no abatement of the seriousness of the issue. We regard this affidavit as a crime, blasphemy. Both the prime minister and the Congress chief owe an apology to the country,” BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar told reporters.

“It(government) withdrew it only after there was widespread outrage,” he said, insisting that the government was required to fix ministerial accountability for the affidavit.

The BJP leader accused the government of plotting to destroy the Ram Setu, which has been mentioend in Ramayana citing its moves to seek court permission for dredging the waterway as part of the Sethusamudram project.

“The government is unequivocally committed to destroying the Ram Setu, which we will never allow,” he remarked.

Asked why his party did not oppose the project when it was cleared during the NDA rule, he claimed there was no proposal at that stage that it would have to pass through the Ram Setu.

He said his party was not opposed to the project itself but wanted its realignment to save the bridge.

“I do not agree with that,” he said when pointed to allegations that the BJP had lost credibility over Hindu religious issues because it did not build a Ram temple while being in power.

“This is not the subject of the day,” he said when asked how his party leader L K Advani proposed to meet AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa, whom the BJP had vociferously attacked over the arrest of the Kanchi Shankaracharya when she was in power. “But we welcome her statement on Ram Setu.”

http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/002200709141866.htm

Now, Ram Setu to be Part of Uttarakhand School Syllabus

http://www.rediff.com/news/2007/sep/14ram.htm
by devilsworkshop 2 hours 38 minutes ago (rediff.com)

Amidst the furore over Ram Setu, the Bharatiya Janata government in Uttarakhand has decided to introduce the subject as part of the school syllabus.

A committee of experts is being set up to gather details regarding the Ram Setu, known as Adam’s Bridge, for students up to the class 12 level, officials said on Friday.

They said Uttarakhand would become the first state in the country to teach chapters on the bridge — which according to legend was built by Lord Ram’s ‘vanar sena’ — in the school curriculum.

The chapters would deal with the geographical and seismic conditions surrounding the bridge off the Rameshwaram coast in Tamil Nadu and also dwell on stories of Lord Ram, his journey to Lanka to rescue wife Sita and the vanquishing of its demon king Ravana.

http://www.indianpad.com/story/104656

Rama Setu: sadist secular denying heritage

Denying Ram is denying India
Tarun Vijay | September 14, 2007 | 17:56 IST
Sonia Gandhi again played a masterstroke by taking credit for withdrawing the offending Ram Sethu affidavit. But this has also raised the question whether she did it in deference to Hindu sentiments or was she afraid of its negative impact on her party’s election prospects. Since the United Progressive Alliance’s ascendancy to power, a number of decisions have been taken by the government which hurt Hindu sentiments but none cared.

If suddenly her conscience took cognisance of Hindu sensitivities, then logically she should have also withdrawn the destruction of the Ram Sethu. One can only hope that political leaders understand that this issue concerns national sentiments and should be dealt beyond party lines.

After all, the affidavit was filed quite confidently by the State apparatus because the entire atmosphere of governance has a distinct ‘offend the Hindus, get the Muslim votes’ hue. Bureaucrats, being the most durbari species, sensed it, otherwise none would have dared to file such nonsense on a stamp paper during A B Vajpayee’s regime.

It is this all-pervading air of ‘bruising Hindus to get a pat’ that the name that appears first on our lips since birth and lasts till the funeral pyre is lit was challenged so coolly by a government which is not run by aliens.

It has tried to delete all that stood for our identity and cultural traits that define us, our nationhood and soul. It shows utter disregard for the majority sentiment and the threads that weave a fabric called India, while distributing gifts of reservations and loans and opportunities for anyone declaring himself to be a non-Hindu. One Diwali our Shankaracharya was arrested and then Muslims were given reservations in jobs and educational institutions. No one ever, not even once, showed any concern for the Kashmiri Hindu refugees; rather illegal alien Muslim infiltrators were facilitated by enacting the Illegal Migrants Detention Act and when the Supreme Court struck it down, again brought it back through the back door.

This attitude sets the tone of the State machinery. So what happened in this case was nothing surprising. If the affidavit was honestly withdrawn to respect Hindu sentiments, then why was it not accompanied with an announcement to withdraw the destruction of the Ram Sethu also? If the offending affidavit is bad, then the destruction of the bridge connected with the same great icon of Hindus is worse.

Didn’t the political masters who cleared the affidavit know that Ram doesn’t need any birth certificate from occupants of the paan-stained dirty corridors of State? Faith of any hue and region has to be respected unquestioningly. It is faith that makes people live and die for a cause, and not political jugglery.

Ram defines our nation, our ancestry, our civilisation. Denying Ram is denying India. Gandhi stood firmly for Ram Rajya. He died with Ram’s name on his lips. His samadhi in Delhi has only one inscription etched on it, He Ram. But Hindus are asked to provide proof of Rama’s birthplace and the data of his bridge’s construction plans.

Now they asked for proof of his existence. Next they may ask — with this kind of Parliament it is quite possible — to provide proof of who gave Bharat her name. Where are the records? And the ASI’s poor director will file an affidavit: We do not have any ‘scientifically’ ascertainable records, only mythologies say this land’s name is Bharat. Hence the name can be changed to any Nehru-Gandhi Clanistan, which will have proof authenticated by the New Delhi Municipal Corporation!

Mythology. The whole construct is a British anthropological revenge on us. We had a different tradition of recording events and writing history. The British and their cohorts taught that all that was mythology, a myth, and only the Western Christian world’s methods are ‘scientific’. Hence we adopted their standards, their calendar, their ways to greet the guests, their worldview became ours, and we discarded everything that we cherished, adopted their attire and weird uniforms (see our learned advocates sweating in black but still not complaining) to look modern and progressive.

Hence questioning Ram and Sita, humiliating ochre-robed sanyasins, converting ancient people and ridiculing their faith becomes part of cleansing the ‘heathens and pagans’ of their dark practices and emancipating them to the ‘higher’ levels of ‘modernity’.

When Kalidas wrote Raghuvamsam, he described the entire dynasty beginning from Brahma. Lord Brahma created 10 prajapatis — one of whom was Marichi. Kashyapa is the son of Marichi and Kala. Kashyapa is regarded as the father of humanity. Vivasvan or Surya is the son of Kashyapa and Aditi. Manu or Vaivaswatha Manu is the son of Vivasvan. He is regarded as the first ruler belonging to the Ikshvaku dynasty. Ikshvaku is the son of Manu and established his kingdom in Ayodhya. Kukshi is the son of Ikshavaku. Vikukshi is the son of Kukshi. Bana is the son of Vikukshi. Anaranya is the son of Bana. Prithu is the son of Anaranya. Trisanku is the son of Prithu. Dhundhumara is the son of Trisanku. Yuvanaswa is the son of Dhundhumara. Mandhata is the son of Yuvanaswa. Susandhi is the son of Mandhata. Daivasandhi and Presenjit are the sons of Susandhi. Bharatha is the son of Presenjit. Asita is the son of Bharatha. Sagara is the son of Asitha. Asamanja is the son of Sagara. Amsumantha (Ansuman) is the son of Asamanja. Dileepa is the son of Amsumantha. Bhagiratha is the son of Dileepa. Kakustha is the son of Bhagiratha. Raghu is the son of Kakushta.

The clan of Raghuvamsha started with Raghu. Pravardha is the son of Raghu. Sankhana is the son of Pravardha. Sudarsana is the son of Sankhana. Agnivarna is the son of Sudarsana. Seeghraga is the son of Agnivarna. Maru is the son of Seeghraga. Prasusruka is the son of Maru. Ambarisha is the son of Prasusruka. Nahusha is the son of Ambarisha. Yayathi is the son of Nahusha. Nabhaga is the son of Yayathi. Aja is the son of Nabhaga. Dasaratha is the son of Aja. Rama, Lakshmana, Bharatha and Shatrughana are the sons of Dasaratha. Lava and Kusha are the sons of Rama.

Oh my god, these Sanskrit names! Why couldn’t they have Roman ones, to be pronounced better?

The entire East Asia reverberates with the tales of Rama and enactment of the Ramayana including the Muslim-majority Malaysia and Indonesia and countries ruled by the Communists. But a Hindu majority country’s government, under a non-Hindu dispensation, destroys the great bridge associated with Rama’s legacy and files an affidavit that smacks of an alien mindset.

This was a counter-affidavit filed by C Dorjee, director (monuments), Archaeological Survey of India, on behalf of the respondent Union of India through the ministry of culture in reply to Dr Subramanian Swamy’s petition that seeks to put a halt on the Sethu destruction. The language of the affidavit and the way it addressed the Adam’s Bridge issue smacked of an utter disregard for Hindus. They hate calling it Ram Sethu and feel quite comfortable with Adam’s Bridge, a much later coinage. Same firang mindset!

The way the whole issue is being dealt with by the government of India right from the beginning stinks of dishonesty and an aversion to Hindu sensitivities.

There were five channels available for the Sethusamudram project. Why the government chose this particular one, which required the destruction of the Ram Sethu?

The Madras high court and later the Supreme Court had specifically addressed the question of putting a halt to the Ram Sethu’s destruction till the hearings are on. The Madras high court order of June 19, 2007 said, ‘We are not inclined to grant interim relief at this stage, as it would hamper further work in the project. However, we leave it to the Union of India to decide whether the actual cutting of Adam’s Bridge/Rama Sethu could be postponed till the issues involved in these petitions are considered by this court.’

And the Supreme Court order of August 30, 2007 said, ‘Till September 14, the alleged Rama Sethu/Adam’s bridge shall not be damaged in any manner. Dredging activity may be carried out so long as it does not damage Rama Sethu.’

But the government defied it and everyday put up reports of the destruction progress on its Web site http://sethusamudram.gov.in/ProjectStatus.asp under the ‘Progress of Dredging Work’ head.

The ministers and officers supporting such actions represent the same spineless babudom of the colonial era who would stoop to immeasurable depths only to protect their interests.

Ram set the highest example of righteousness, as an obedient son, caring husband, great citizen king, and a warrior par excellence. He is the embodiment of Dharma, who inspires to eliminate the wicked and establish the rule of noble virtues. Those who worship him are there in every party and organisation, yet, to rise above selfishness and uphold Dharma is a rarity.

To make the State just and fair, representing Bharat, is the unfinished war of Ram.

http://in.rediff.com/news/2007/sep/14tarun.htm

http://www.dailypioneer.com/indexn12.asp?main_variable=EDITS&file_name=edit3%2Etxt&counter_img=3

Perversity as secularism

KPS Gill

It is, indeed, amazing how polarising the political discourse has become in this country, and how entirely unnecessary and extraneous controversies are being generated by an intellectually bankrupt national leadership. It is incomprehensible how such perverse nonsense relating to the controversy on Ram Setu could have entered a supposedly secular Government’s representation before the Supreme Court of India.

The Government has, of course, recanted and has sought to distance itself from the contents of the affidavit, but this is far from enough. Someone must have drafted this document; someone would have approved and signed it. This is not something that can simply be pinned on to some minion in the Archaeological Survey of India. The Ram Setu issue has been a prominent political and public controversy for several months now, and it is impossible that a critical affidavit in this regard would not have the explicit assent of the political executive at the highest level; and, in the remote possibility that this is actually the case, the dereliction at senior levels of Government is unforgivable.

The individuals concerned at every level of the drafting and approval of this pernicious affidavit need to be clearly and publicly identified and penalised for causing unnecessary offence to Hindus – the majority community in this country, and one that is evidently not regarded as a vote-bank by the so-called ‘secular’ parties – and, indeed, to many non-Hindus who share in the vibrant collective and cultural consciousness of India’s variegated civilisation.

There is a new and escalating insensitivity in Indian secular thought, which not only insistently neglects the sensibilities of the majority community, but, worse, appears eager to cause injury to such sentiments. India’s opportunistic political secularists - as distinct from those who are, in fact and practice, actually wedded to the secular ideology – feel that they cannot sufficiently proclaim their secularism without displaying at least a measure of contempt for Hindu beliefs and practices.

By contrast, the most extraordinary sensitivity – often transgressing not only the limits of good sense, but even considerations of national interest – is prominently displayed towards the Muslim minority vote-bank (though other minorities – with their smaller shares in electoral contests – are ironically treated with the same contempt that is directed against the majority community). These tendencies appear to be getting worse with the passage of time, and a precipitous decline in the quality of political debate and intelligence is manifest.

These tendencies are, nevertheless, deep rooted in Indian – and particularly Congress – politics, and the tallest of our leaders have not escaped susceptibility to this perversity of perspective. When the Khilafat movement collapsed in 1924, the Moplah rebellion, in which Muslim mobs inflicted untold savagery and rapine on Hindus, broke out in Kerala.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the Mahatma, who wore his Hindu identity very much on his sleeve, first denied these atrocities. As evidence of Muslim excesses mounted, he described the Moplahs as “god-fearing” people who were “fighting for what they consider as religion, and in a manner they consider as religious”. Even during the Khilafat movement, Gandhi chose to ally with the infamous Ali brothers, silently sharing a platform with them, and refusing to criticise or comment when they declared: “If the Afghans invaded India to wage holy war, the Indian Muhammadans are not only bound to join them but also to fight the Hindus if they refuse to cooperate with them.”

The problem with the current controversy goes beyond this, to the way in which we view science itself. The Archaeological Survey of India, in its affidavit to the Supreme Court, has asserted that there “was no historical and scientific evidence to establish the existence of Lord Ram or the other characters in Ramayan“. But to conclude from this lack of evidence that Lord Ram did not exist, and that the whole of Ramayan is no more than a religious myth, exceeds the scope of the evidence (or lack thereof).

The inability to prove, on scientific criteria, the existence of a particular individual or entity does not amount to a proof of the non-existence of such an individual or entity. Falsification has entirely different criteria – and the dearth of archaeological and historical evidence is not sufficient basis for such falsification. Regrettably, many have jumped into this controversy with sweeping assertions regarding the existence or otherwise of Lord Ram and of Ram Setu, reflecting the poorest possible understanding of scientific methodology or of evidence.

Unfortunately, science, with rare exception, is taught in India much like religion: As an authoritarian, faith-based system, to be internalised by rote on the mandate of a teacher whose assertions are to be accepted without question; and, not as the tentative, continuously expanding enterprise of discovery rooted in human freedom and imagination.

The Ram Setu issue, moreover, goes beyond science, to the very heart of faith and of the collective consciousness of a nation – and these considerations cannot be irrelevant to a legal determination of the issue. If, indeed, they were to be treated as extraneous and immaterial, then there could be no objection to razing every religious structure in the country to the ground, on considerations, purely, of expediency. The greatest caution must be exercised when intervening in these issues, and the clumsiness, the political chicanery and the opportunism – across party lines – that characterised the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid issue should be avoided at all costs.

The legend of Ram and Ramayan – archaeological evidence or no archaeological evidence – has primal resonances in the civilisation, culture and multiple identities, not only of India and among Hindus, but among the people of the entire South and South-East Asian region, and occasionally well beyond. I recall watching films and theatrical performances – Ram Lilas – based on Ramayan from earliest childhood, and one of the most exciting scenes was the vaanar sena building the bridge to Lanka with rocks inscribed with the name of their Lord. These are images embedded in the consciousness of millions across India and beyond, and to trivialise this is to misunderstand the very nature of governance.

There is an increasing fraud and dishonesty at the core of the Indian secular establishment. Secularism means, at once, a distancing of the institutions of governance from communal influence, but also sensitivity towards all religious communities and faiths – not just a particular minority vote-bank. The current, contentious and prejudiced orientation of so-called ‘secular’ forces in national politics reflects a complete collapse of political intellect.

Cong Takes U-Turn, Now Says Ram Did Exist
Pioneer News Service

Faced with spontaneous outrage over negation of the very existence of Lord Ram, the Government on Thursday decided to withdraw its controversial affidavit in the Supreme Court.

“There is a wrong impression being created. Ram is an integral part of our culture. These are matters which relate to faith and it cannot be subjected to debate,” said Union Law Minister HR Bhardwaj while addressing a hurriedly called Press conference on Thursday. Referring to the contentious parts of the affidavit filed by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Wednesday, he said, “We do not want to create an impression that any community is being looked down upon. For this purpose the averments contained in paragraphs 5,6, and 20 will be withdrawn and a fresh supplementary affidavit will be filed.” Sources said that the Government’s U-turn followed the realisation that the controversy could boomerang on the party in the event of a midterm poll. Sources said that Gujarat Congress had specifically told the Congress high command that the denial of Lord Ram’s existence would give a golden opportunity to Chief Minister Narendra Modi to cash in on Hindu sentiments in the poll-bound States. As in the past, once again Congress president Sonia Gandhi quickly distanced herself from the UPA’s unpopular decision and party leaders claimed that she intervened to force the Government to withdraw the controversial affidavit. Congress leaders claimed that Gandhi directed that immediate remedial steps be taken, which made the Government act on a war footing. Gandhi’s direction came against the backdrop of the BJP and Singh Parivar outfits raring to make the Ram Setu issue one of its major planks to consolidate its Hindutva votebank and attack the Congress for playing the politics of minority appeasement.

The affidavit in question was filed in connection with the Setusamudram Ship Canal Project, which involved the dredging of sand along the mythical Ram Setu. In suggesting the Ram Setu to be a natural formation of sand and reefs, the affidavit said, “The petitioners have primarily relied upon the contents of the Valmiki’s Ramayana, the Ramacharitmanas by Tulsidas, and other mythological texts, which cannot be said to be historical records to incontrovertibly prove the existence of the characters, or the occurrence of the events, depicted therein.” On being asked whether the Government thought this could be avoided, the Minister replied, “The public bears a general duty that forbids one from speaking on such issues. This applies even to the Government.” But he ducked responsibility to take action against persons responsible for drafting the affidavit. “I am not the authority to take any action” Bhardwaj said, adding, “We are in touch with Secretary, Ministry of Culture and Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium. He is an eminent counsel and when he is dealing with the case we are pretty confident.” The petitioners, Subramanium Swamy and Rama Gopalan had relied upon the epic Ramayana to indicate the presence of a bridge built by Lord Rama to cross over to Lanka. They even demanded that the bridge be declared a historical monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958. The Canal Project being built along a 167-kilometre corridor crosses the Ram Setu or Adams Bridge between Rameshwaram Island and Thalaimannar in Sri Lanka. The supplementary affidavit would be filed on Friday, Bhardwaj said when the hearing on the petitions challenging the Sethusamudram project would be taken up for hearing in the Supreme Court. He however clarified that the remaining portion of the previous affidavit barring the contentious paragraphs would remain and the case will be argued on merits in Court. Recognising the “deep religious import” attached with these texts by the Hindu community, the Centre in its affidavit filed by ASI Director C Dorjee said, “the existence of human remains, whether in the form of bones, etc or in the form of other artefacts, is primary to prove archaeologically the existence and veracity of a historical fact.” In the case of Ram Setu, it added, “no such human remains have been discovered at the site of the formation known as Adams Bridge.” The Centre primarily relied upon the reports of the Geological Survey of India, Space Application Centre (Ahmedabad) and NASA to disprove the contentions raised in the petition. The urgency on the part of the Government was understandable since the Supreme Court had imposed a stay on any kind of activity that could damage the Setu.

URL of this page: http://www.indolink.com/displayArticleS.php?id=091407103624

http://www.indolink.com/displayArticleS.php?id=091407103624

Posted: Sat, Sep 15 2007. 12:14 AM IST

Govt on back foot, withdraws affidavit

Advantage Opposition as Centre now likely to form a panel to look into various grievances; petitioners talk tough

Priyanka P. Narain

Mumbai: The government on Friday withdrew the affidavit filed in the Supreme Court by the ministry of culture on 10 and 11 September on the Sethusamudram project, and asked for three months to review the project. The court gave the government the desired three months but refused to lift a stay on dredging the Ram Sethu (or Adam’s Bridge), a coral bridge connecting India and Sri Lanka. However, it has allowed dredging to continue in other parts of the channel.

Petitioner and Janata Party leader Subramaniam Swamy, whose case against the government prompted the affidavit, claimed that the government also promised to “reconsider the entire matter, including discussing possibility of a new alignment (for the channel)”. It wasn’t immediately possible to verify whether the government’s legal representatives said this before the court and, if so, what they meant by it. The submission made by Gopal Subramaniam, additional solicitor general of India, a copy of which is available with Mint, says the government will look at “all materials… including any alternative suggestions”.

The Rs2,600 crore project that seeks to build a channel for ships by destroying Adam’s Bridge aims to cut passage time for ships circumnavigating India by 24 hours, but it has been controversial from the start with scientists, politicians, environmentalists, religious groups and the local populace opposing it. Hindu groups believe the bridge was built by Hindu god Ram. This week, Mint ran a four-part series looking at various issues related to the project.

Earlier this week, the government filed an affidavit that said there was no historical evidence of Ram having existed. Political parties such as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the principal Opposition party, and religious groups such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (an associate of the BJP), already opposed to the project, increased the pitch of their protests. This is the affidavit that has been withdrawn by the government.

Appearing before a two-judge bench comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice R.V. Raveendran, Gopal Subramaniam said the Union government has taken this decision in “a spirit of inclusiveness and high democratic tradition, to consider a different point of view.”

The Centre is expected to form a committee to look into the task of hearing the grievances of the people, including the petitioners—Rama Gopalan, the founder president of the Hindu Munnani, a Hindu group and Subramaniam Swamy—on this issue. “They will have to sit and talk to us about an alignment which does not destroy the Ram Sethu,” said Swamy.

Political analyst Mahesh Rangarajan said that by withdrawing the affidavit, the government has played into the hands of the BJP. “The government has handed the issue on a platter to the BJP. They think that by withdrawing the affidavit they have taken the wind out of the opposition. In fact, this will do the exact opposite. This will re-energize the BJP.”

At the VHP, the mood is jubilant and aggressive: VHP workers say they intend to continue their campaign against the destruction of the bridge. The VHP has planned a month of rallies and protests across the country starting on 26 September. Vyankatesh Abdeo, All-India joint secretary of the VHP, said the agitation would be “another month-long rath yatra (in which a chariot travels around the country rallying public support for the cause) which would end at the Prime Minister’s house in New Delhi.”

Praveen Togadia, the VHP’s general secretary, said the group had no intentions of withdrawing its campaign. “We will call it a victory only when the government either cancels the project or announces an alternative alignment which will not damage the Ram Sethu,” he declared.

A high-level meeting of the VHP and Bajrang Dal (another right-wing religious group) leaders is expected to take place in Delhi next week.

“Someone from the BJP will definitely go to attend the VHP meeting,” said BJP leader L.K. Advani.

He added that the BJP would not let the issue of the affidavit end with the government’s withdrawal of it.

“We will be pursuing this matter. It is not just someone’s error as Bharadwaj (law minister H.R. Bharadwaj) says. Responsibility needs to be fixed. Who has done this and at what level was this affidavit approved? We need to make sure that they will not destroy the Ram Sethu.”

Meanwhile, shipping minister T.R. Baalu, whose ministry oversees the Sethusamudram project, continued to remain unavailable for comment because he was “touring in Chennai.”

http://tinyurl.com/3btwe5

GC Shekhar, Hindustan Times

Email Author

Chennai, September 15, 2007

First Published: 03:03 IST(15/9/2007)

Last Updated: 03:14 IST(15/9/2007)

Big blow for DMK

The Centre’s decision to withdraw its affidavit on the Ram Setu issue has left the ruling DMK red faced at a time when the party was set for its annual three-day commemorative meet and the launch of its channel Kalaignar TV on Saturday.
The Centre’s all-out effort to appease the Hindu community is proving particularly irksome for Tamil Nadu Chief
Minister M Karunanidhi and Union Shipping Minister TR Baalu. The two had consistently derided the Ram Setu controversy as a mere diversionary ploy to delay the Setusamudram Project and observed that development projects cannot be derailed by unfounded religious beliefs.
Baalu is eager to complete the Rs 2,300 crore project before the December, 2008 deadline and the Centre’s move to appoint a panel to re-examine the Ram Setu issue will delay it.
Dredging in the vicinity of the bridge has already come to a halt after the Supreme Court’s stay order. If the Committee chooses an alternate path for the canal, without disturbing the Ram Setu, it would require a fresh environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the new route.
The high-pitched protests over Ram Setu have drowned the deleterious impact the canal can have on the environment and fishermen’s livelihood.  “First, it was the tsunami that affected our catch. And now, this dredging will further drive away the fish,” observed Anton Gomez, president of the National Union of Fishermen.
However, considering the DMK’s clout in Delhi, the party may try once again to push through its pet project.

http://tinyurl.com/3au568

Congress worried Modi may exploit Setu
15 Sep 2007, 0140 hrs IST,Subodh Ghildiyal,TNN
SMS NEWS to 58888 for latest updates

NEW DELHI: Congress has begun to hammer out a strategy to counter the fallout of the affidavit denying the existence of Lord Ram, with apprehensions rising that it could be exploited by chief minister Narendra Modi in poll-bound Gujarat.
The fears were exacerbated by state unit’s feedback that the controversy had found a resonance in the state, especially in urban centres.
As VHP cadres took to streets protesting Centre’s affidavit in the apex court, the party knew Modi was unlikely to let it pass. The fears were confirmed when the chief minister seized upon the issue to invoke the “Congress supremo and Rome” in a tribal rally.
Leaders say the party’s poll strategy, designed over 10 months, will have to be reworked in the wake of the Ram Sethu controversy. The party is looking to block Modi’s chance of diverting focus from rebellion, disenchantment and farmers, to emotive issues of Hindutva hue.
The party may go ballistic in its strategy to counter Modi styling himself as “five crore Gujaratwasion ka gaurav” with “five udyogpatiyon ka gaurav” to target him for favouring industrialists at the expense of farmers. Eager that the controversy does not push its cadres on the back foot, it has begun to question the BJP for reneging on its Ram temple promise in Ayodhya and will publicise the fact that Sethusamudram project was approved by the Vajpayee regime.
The turnout at the BJP rebels’ rally in Rajkot a day after Ram Sethu implosion has raised hopes in Congress camp that the controversy may not have the effect Modi is hoping for. Modi lapping up on Ram Sethu to target Sonia Gandhi comes amid concerted bids to raise Hindutva temperature.
The saffron outfits have launched a campaign against the restoration of mediaeval ruins of Pavagadh-Champaner in Panchmahals. It is being slammed as “against Hindu culture” and UPA regime is being targetted as its facilitator, even though it was declared UNESCO heritage site under Modi regime.
As partymen weigh the damage done by Ram Sethu controversy in Gujarat and the general election mood across the country, they say it could have been worse but for quick owning up of the mistake, which has defused the matter largely.
A strong message that Sonia authored the course correction will, party leaders hope, help take the sting out of BJP bid to exploit Hindutva sentiment.
To distance the party from the sensitive issue, senior leaders have begun to speak out against the serious gaffe. CWC member Mohsina Kidwai told TOI, “This affidavit, which hurts the feelings of a vast majority, is a big lapse. Whatever religion we belong to, we have not seen God but it is an article of faith and our emotions are linked to it. How can we say what the affidavit has said. It is bound to hurt feelings.” She demanded that government should hold an inquiry and fix responsibility, even as she pleaded that it not be given a political colour.

http://tinyurl.com/3ydg7m

Ram Setu project: DMK in no mood for review
15 Sep 2007, 0147 hrs IST,Dhananjay Mahapatra,TNN
SMS NEWS to 58888 for latest updates

NEW DELHI: The present shape of the Sethusamudram project has been determined by the DMK and the southern partner does not appear to be in a mood to brook a review. In such a scenario, chances of Congress leadership annoying a crucial partner with elections looming are slim. Extending the stay on Sethusamudram, a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice R V Raveendran asked the government to come back in January with a fresh affidavit on the issue and ordered that till then no damage should be caused to the Ram Setu.
As Ram Setu or Adam’s Bridge is the main hurdle to dredging a navigation channel between India and Sri Lanka, continuance of the interim order passed on August 31 by a Bench headed by Justice B N Agrawal would mean a virtual halt of work at the project site, off Rameshwaram.
Subramaniam’s submission was yet another chapter in the damage-control script in play since the controversy erupted in the face of Congress leadership. Ignoring the smile on the face of one of the petitioners — Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy — the ASG read out a three-page submission before the Bench in a jam-packed court room.
“The central government has total respect for all religions, and Hinduism in particular, in the context of the present case. It is alive and conscious of religious sensibilities, including the unique, ancient and holy text of Ramayana,” the ASG said. The respect for religious sensitivity contrasted sharply with the Centre’s affidavit which was filed on September 11 stating that the Valmiki Ramayana and Ramcharitmanas “cannot be said to be historical records to incontrovertibly prove the existence of the characters, or the occurrence of events depicted therein”.
The U-turn was total when the Centre said it “acknowledges every citizen’s fundamental right to feel (to be) a part of the composite culture and religious heritage of the country”. The ASG did mention that paragraphs in the affidavit which caused a nationwide uproar were stated in response to pleadings made by Swamy and should not have been read in isolation.
But he did not press the argument hard, lest it appeared to be a justification of the previous affidavit. The ASG said the Centre had decided to withdraw the affidavit and take a fresh look at the project. He conceded that the issue was complex and warranted consideration of contending viewpoints.

http://tinyurl.com/2mfjbp

Centre withdraws affidavits on Ram Setu from SC

Pratyush

On Friday, the central government withdrew the two affidavits submitted by ASI in the Supreme Court. In one affidavit, the ASI had claimed that there was no historical or scientific evidence to establish the existence of Lord Ram and linked events. The ASI had said that the Setu (Ram Setu) was a natural not a man-made bridge.

On this affidavit submitted by ASI in SC, the BJP, VHP and other saffron parties started staging protests across the nation alleging the Congress party hurting the religious sentiments of majority in the country.

Later, the law minister made a statement that the government did a mistake and it would take back the affidavit from the court.

On Friday, the Supreme Court Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balkrishnan, allowed the Union government to withdraw both the affidavits. The SC bench said the August 31 interim order issued by the court that had stayed the construction in Rama Setu area, would continue.

The center also said that it would examine the whole matter linked with the Sethusamudram project and told the court to grant three month’s time. The Court later decided to hear the matter in the first week of January, 2008.

Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam told the Bench:

The Central Government has total respect for all religions, and Hinduism in particular, in the context of the present case. The Central Government is alive and conscious of religious sensibilities, including the unique, ancient and holy text of Ramayana.

Further, the SC Bench took on record Subramaniam’s submission that the government would consider the suggestions and representations of all the petitioners in a true democratic spirit on the mechanism to clear the Setusamudram project.

http://tinyurl.com/2qucrt

CPI(M) defends govt’s withdrawal of affidavit on Ram Setu

New Delhi, Sept. 14 (PTI): The CPI(M) today said the government decision to withdraw its affidavit on the Sethusamudram project in the Supreme Court was “appropriate” and charged the BJP with “hypocrisy” for clearing the project during its rule and opposing it now.

The government has “taken an appropriate decision to withdraw certain paragraphs in the affidavit” filed by the Archaeological Survey of India in the Supreme Court that were considered “extraneous to the matter at hand”, the party Polit Bureau said in a statement.

“That said, it must be reiterated that there is no scientific evidence whatsoever that a manmade structure, the Adams Bridge exists in the Palk Straits. What exists are natural formations,” it said.

Maintaining that the erstwhile Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had itself sanctioned the project, the party said “to oppose it on religious grounds is sheer hypocrisy.”

The BJP’s efforts “to play up the ‘Ram Setu’ issue is nothing but bankrupt communal politics which once again confirms that the party has no constructive agenda to offer,” the CPI(M) said.

The Centre today withdrew from the Supreme Court its two affidavits, including the one filed by the ASI.

http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/001200709141760.htm

Punish those responsible for Ram Setu affidavit: CPI(M)

Shimla, Sept. 14 (PTI): The CPI(M) today took serious objection to the Centre’s affidavit in the Supreme Court on Ram setu issue and sought stern punishment for the guilty.

“It is improper to interfere in the religious affairs of any community as the Constitution provides protection to all religions in the country,” CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury told reporters here.

He welcomed the government’s withdrawal of the controversial affidavit filed by the Archeological Survey of India claiming there was no historical or scientific evidence to establish the existence of Lord Ram and Ram setu as a man- made bride.

Yechury said persons responsible for the affidavit should be pinpointed and the guilty taken to task. He was in Shimla in connection with a seminar organised by the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies here.

http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/001200709141866.htm

Ram Setu: Congress suspects ‘mischief’
15 Sep 2007, 0137 hrs IST,TNN
SMS NEWS to 58888 for latest updates

NEW DELHI: Suspecting sabotage in raising questions about Ram in the government affidavit to the Supreme Court, the Congress leadership on Friday made it clear that heads would roll for unnecessarily touching on a politically sensitive issue even though the judiciary had not asked for it. Perturbed by the possibility of the affidavit harming Congress at a time when parliamentary elections appear round the corner, party bosses have told the government to look for the “source of mischief”.
What, however, irked the party further was law minister H R Bhardwaj’s remarks affirming the historicity of Ram in an apparent attempt at damage control. Bhardwaj’s assertion that Ram was an “integral part of history”, the party think-tank fears, could lead to more embarrassing questions about Ayodhya and other related issues.
Caught between the affidavit drafted by ASI mandarins and Bhardwaj’s views, the party tried to walk a tightrope insisting that the court’s queries could have been satisfied by simply stating whether a manmade bridge existed at the site of the Sethusamudram project. “The Ram issue is not relevant to the case at all; it does not concern the court,” party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said. Admitting that an error might have crept in, he at the same time, seemed to distance the party from Bhardwaj’s position by stating that Congress believed in a “secular India”.
Appalled by the observations on Ram in the affidavit and the prospect of damage to its poll fortunes, the party has reportedly asked the government to probe how it happened. What made Congress particularly suspicious was the deliberate nature of that part of the affidavit dealing with Ram. “It’s a very carefully-crafted sentence, inserted deliberately,” remarked a senior source. Being a written document, party functionaries fear, it is easier to quote from or reproduce the controversial part of the affidavit.
However, Congress put up a brave front saying that the decision to withdraw the affidavit should be praised. In a reference to the Ayodhya demolition and the subsequent communal riots, Singhvi said, “Those who have tried to sully the fair name of Ram have got a beating time and again.”

http://tinyurl.com/2j9ox8

Ram Sethu not man-made: Govt

Sam Daniel, A Vaidyanathan

Wednesday, September 12, 2007 (New Delhi)

The Centre has told the Supreme Court that there is no evidence to prove the existence of characters or events in the Ramayana and the Ram Sethu is not a man-made structure.
The Sethusamudram shipping canal project has been seeing sporadic protests from Hindutva forces. The project, which is expected to cost Rs 2500 crore, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh two years ago.
But Hindu groups opposed the project as they felt it would damage the Ram Sethu. They even wanted the structure to be declared a national monument.
Protesters say the project will destroy a bridge built by Lord Ram as per the Ramayana. But while they took to the streets, the Centre told the Supreme Court that the Ram Sethu is a sand formation and not a man-made structure.
It said Ram Sethu cannot be declared a national monument based on mythological evidence.
The apex court, which is examining the project, had earlier stayed dredging on the Ram Sethu till September 14.
Science vs faith
Now ships coming to the peninsula have to circumnavigate Sri Lanka. When completed this project will shorten the journey by 785 kilometres cutting down travel time by nearly 30 hours.
But those opposing the project aren’t happy with the Centre’s latest remarks on the Ramayana.
”It is an insult to Hindus. Prime Minister should explain how the ASI can file such an affidavit in the Supreme Court,” said Ravi Shankar Prasad, Spokesperson, BJP.
But historians say emotions should not be played up.
”What we are able to conclude from NASA pictures (that) it was not really man built. But there is some natural formation, we tend to believe on that. We should stand together and not allow any emotional campaign to take the upper hand. That’s the challenge,” said Dr G J Sudhakar, Vice-President, TN History Congress.
The Sethu Samudram Shipping Canal Project has got all ingredients for a gripping story – faith, reason, politics, progress.
Critics say it will demolish their faith. Its supporters say canal makes economic sense. As usual the truth may be between these two views. Now on Friday the Supreme Court may decide whether work should restart.
VHP protests
As VHP protestors were demonstrating against the demolition of the Sethusamundran bridge, a 30-year-old woman delivered her baby on the streets of Patna.
Nine months pregnant and hugely in pain, Sunita and her husband Jitendra were desperately trying to get to a doctor.
But the VHP protestors refused to listen them and she could not go to the hospital on time. Jitendra put her on his cycle and began peddling to hospital.
”I could not find any transport for one hour. Her pain grew and I brought her on my cycle,” said Jitendra.
The protests resulted in traffic jams, loss of public property all across the country.
Some of the worst hit were tourists like a group from Europe and Canada in Khajurao.
They were made to get off their bus and walk in the intense Madhya Pradesh heat. Some of them fainted and if this wasn’t enough the saffron brigade then made them shout Jai Shri Ram slogans.

http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx?id=NEWEN20070025883

Ram Setu: Govt in damage control mode

NDTV Correspondent

Friday, September 14, 2007 (New Delhi)

The government is clearly on a damage control mode as far as the Sethusamudram canal project is concerned.
The UPA government has withdrawn the controversial affidavit in Supreme Court, which said that there was no historical proof of Lord Ram’s existence.
Caught between Sonia Gandhi and a belligerent Opposition the government’s damage control has been quick.
The two government affidavits claiming Ram Setu was not man-made and that there was no proof that Ram existed were withdrawn on Friday.
The affidavit said: ”The government has total respect for all religions and Hinduism in particular in the context of present case. The government is alive and conscious of religious sensibilities, including the unique ancient and holy text of Ramayana having regards to public sentiments.”
Not only that they have also decided to put the Sethusamudram project on hold taking three months to review it.
Among the controversial references which sparked off the protests is the paragraph says: ”Contents of the Valmiki Ramayana, the Ramcharita Manas by Tulsidas and other mythological texts cannot be said to be historical record to incontrovertibly prove the existence of the characters, or the occurrence of the events, depicted therein.”
”We have withdrawn the affidavit. So there is no scope for controversy. We have accepted our mistake,” said H R Bharadwaj, Law Minister.
The government has moved in fast to minimise the damage and it’s trying to ascertain at what level the politically grave error happened.
The Centre said in a fresh affidavit that it never meant to cast aspersions on any faith.
The government has done everything to undo the damage short of the apology BJP leader L K Advani had demanded from Sonia Gandhi and the prime minister.
But finding out who’s responsible for the reference on Ram in the ASI affidavit is going to be another headache.
Congress Spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said that the party is looking into who is responsible for the lapse.
Meanwhile, according to sources, the government has suspended two ASI officials. One of them is a deputy director administration while the other is of the level of assistant director in the ASI.
Sources in Congress president’s office told NDTV that:

  • The ASI DG’s office has written to Sonia Gandhi
  • The DG has said the objectionable lines were not ASI’s doing
  • The Culture Department has also said it wasn’t them

Despite the government’s quick retreat the issue has too much electoral value for the BJP to let go of it.
It is already mobilising cadres, new slogans are being coined and campaign material on the Setu is being printed by the truckloads.
It will be discussed at the BJP’s national executive in Bhopal and they will devise ways to sustain the campaign in the name of Ram.
”We want work there to stop. Even dredging should stop,” said Pravash Javadekar, BJP Spokesperson.
In Ramcharitmanas Tuslidas says Ram was waiting for three days for the sea to part to cross over to Lanka, an angry Ram said bole Ram sakop tab, Bhai bin hoi na preet, that is without fear there is no love. Fear of polls it seems has made Ram dear to political parties.

http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx?id=NEWEN20070026136#

Govt to remove foul part of Ram Setu affidavit

Friday, September 14, 2007 11:39 [IST]
PTI

New Delhi: After facing a stiff opposition over its stand on Lord Ram, the government decided to withdraw the objectionable paragraphs of the affidavit filed in the Supreme Court questioning the existence of Lord Rama or other characters in the epic Ramayana.

After a quick intervention by Congress President Sonia Gandhi in a damage-control exercise, Law Minister HR Bhardwaj announced at a hurriedly-called press conference that the averments in the objectionable paragraphs will be withdrawn.

“We are filing a supplementary affidavit in the Supreme Court,” he said, a day after the Archaeological Survey of India told the apex court that there was no historical and scientific evidence to establish the existence of Lord Rama or the other characters in Ramayana.

The affidavit came under immediate attack from the Sangh Parivar, including the BJP which called it ‘blasphemous’.

Senior BJP leader LK Advani met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Bhardwaj told them ‘the highly objectionable affidavit be withdrawn.’

Highly placed sources said Gandhi directed the government to take ‘immediate remedial steps’ to set right the situation. Lord Rama is an integral part of Indian culture and ethos and cannot be a matter of debate, Bhardwaj said.

Asked what clarification the government plan to make, the minister said ‘this is in regard to our averment in the affidavit that there is no evidence that these characters of our scriptures did exist.’

“This is a wrong impression,” Bhardwaj said referring to the media reports on the affidavit.

http://news.indiainfo.com/2007/09/14/ramsetu_0709141139.html

Modi slams Centre’s Setu affidavit

Posted at Friday, 14 September 2007 10:09 IST

Ahmedabad, Sep 14: Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, is more than happy to find a new issue to lambaste the Congress party.
The Congress-led UPA government’s controversial affidavit submitted in the Supreme Court raising questions about the existence of Lord Ram will be an election issue in Gujarat.
Narendra Modi is all set to exploit the issue to the fullest as elections are only months away in the state.
Modi mounted a scathing attack on the Congress saying the party has questioned the faith of millions of Hindus by doubting the existence of Ram.
“The Central government should immediately withdraw the affidavit from the Supreme Court and tender a public apology to the Hindus,” Modi said.
He said by this affidavit, the Central government has shown disregard towards crores of people of the country.
“The Congress ‘sultanate’ in Delhi has hurt the sentiments of the people for vote bank politics,” he said.
“This is an attempt to erase Lord Rama from the lives of the Indian people who revere and worship him,” Modi said.
“We will not allow dredging of Ram Sethu till there exists last drop of blood in us,” he added. http://www.saharasamay.com/samayhtml/articles.aspx?newsid=84656

Row over Ram Setu affidavit echoes in Delhi Assembly

New Delhi, Sept. 13 (PTI): The controversy over the Centre’s affidavit on the Ram Setu issue in the Supreme Court today echoed in the Delhi Assembly with opposition BJP staging a walkout demanding an apology from the Union Government and Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

As soon as the House assembled for the day, Leader of Opposition Jagdish Mukhi led the attack on the state government demanding an immediate apology over the Ram Setu issue.

Branding the Centre’s comments as an attack on Indian culture, city BJP president Harshvardhan said, “the Centre as well as the Delhi Government should render an apology on the comments”.

Opposition MLAs soon staged a walkout on the issue following which Speaker Prem Singh adjourned the House for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, after the House reassembled, BJP MLA Sahib Singh Chauhan raised the issue of delay in construction of the Wazirabad Bridge and blamed the ruling Congress, including area MLA Bheeshm Sharma for it.

This was followed by a ruckus in the House as Sharma registered his protest against the allegations by moving towards Chauhan.

As the Opposition MLAs trooped into the well of the House after this, the House was adjourned again till tomorrow.

Amid the bedlam, the Government tabled the Bread and Breakfast Bill.

http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/001200709131827.htm

Jayalalithaa moves SC, opposes destruction of ‘Ram Setu’

New Delhi, Sept. 13 (PTI): Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has moved the Supreme Court to restrain the Centre from “destroying” the “Ram Setu” bridge, saying that it not only involved huge public sentiments, but its destruction would impinge upon the national security.

Quoting extensively various historical literature and compilations, Jayalalithaa said the “Ram Setu” bridge is a symbol of might and power of human will and the construction of the bridge by the vanar sena of Lord Rama was a victory of human endeavour in the face of adversity.

Besides, affecting the massive public sentiments attached to the bridge, the AIADMK chief cautioned that any destruction to the mythical barrier would expose the country to grave security threat from the US.

She submitted that India and Sri Lanka had always treated the Palk Bay, Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Straits as historical as its territorial rights, whereas the US has objected to such claims and considers the waters international.

http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/001200709132034.htm

Govt. to withdraw objectionable parts of Ram Setu affidavit

New Delhi, Sept. 13 (PTI): Facing a saffron onslaught, government today decided to withdraw the “objectionable” paragraphs of the affidavit filed in the Supreme Court questioning the existence of Lord Rama or other characters in the epic Ramayana.

After a quick intervention by Congress President Sonia Gandhi in a damage-control exercise, Law Minister H R Bhardwaj announced at a hurriedly-called press conference that the averments in the objectionable paragraphs will be withdrawn.

“We are filing a supplementary affidavit tomorrow in the Supreme Court,” he said, a day after the Archaeological Survey of India told the apex court that there was no historical and scientific evidence to establish the existence of Lord Rama or the other characters in Ramayana. The affidavit came under immediate attack from the Sangh Parivar, including the BJP which called it “blasphemous”. Senior BJP leader L K Advani met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and also Bhardwaj at a dinner meeting last night and had told them “the highly objectionable affidavit be withdrawn.”

Highly placed sources said Gandhi directed the government to take “immediate remedial steps” to set right the situation.

Lord Rama is an integral part of Indian culture and ethos and cannot be a matter of debate, Bhardwaj said. Asked what clarification did the government planned to make, the minister said “this is in regard to our averment in the affidavit that there is no evidence that these characters of our scriptures did exist.”

“This is a wrong impression,” Bhardwaj said referring to the media reports on the affidavit.

http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/000200709131514.htm

Punjab CM seeks apology from center on Ram Sethu issue Print E-mail

Punjab Newsline Network   

Thursday, 13 September 2007

CHANDIGARH: The Punjab Chief Minister  Parkash Singh Badal Thursday described as “shocking beyond belief and utterly insensitive” the centre’s reported stand before the Supreme Court questioning the very existence Lord Sri Ram.”

In a statement here,  Badal demanded that the government should tender a timely and unconditional apology to the masses “for having grievously hurt their religious sentiments.” He also demanded strict action against the officials responsible for the blunder.

“The Holy scriptures, including the Ramayana, are the central tenets of faith of millions of people and have been handed down to us from generation to generation. To doubt historical authenticity of these scriptures and of the holy personages who figured in these is an unbelievably thoughtless action. The government must make amends for this gave lapse,” said the Chief Minister.

Dismiss UPA Government; Tikshan Sud
Meanwhile, Senior BJP leader and Minister of Medical Education and Research in Punjab State  Tikshan Sud today requested President of India,  Pratibha Patil to dismiss UPA Government led by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh for hurting the sentiments of millions of Hindus through out the World by raising a question mark on very existence of Hindu Religion

 In a statement issued here  Tikshan Sud said that by denying the existence of   Lord Sri Rama and Ram Setu, the pillars of Hindu faith and mythology, Dr. Manmohan Singh has tried to play the cheapest kind of vote politics,putting at stake the unity and integrity of country that he is supposed to govern. He said that it was unfortunate that our Prime Minister had become a puppet in the hands of Communists and UPA President of Italian origin. The interference of foreigners, especially those of Italian origin in the matter of our faith would not be tolerated by the vigilant citizens of this country.

Demanding the immediate dismissal of the UPA Government before it inflicted more damage on the secular polity of the Country,  Sud requested President of India to use her inherent powers to protect the unity and integrity of our Country. He said that the Prime Minister by allowing the submission of controversial Affidavit in Supreme Court has tried to inflame the passions of millions of citizens having faith in oldest religion of the World that is Hindu Dharma.

http://www.punjabnewsline.com/content/view/5657/38/

Oh God! UPA red faced, says Lord Ram existed

ibnlive.com

Published on Thursday , September 13, 2007 at 15:12 in Nation section

New Delhi: The Centre will withdraw “offending remarks” from an affidavit which said there is no scientific or historical evidence to prove the existence of Lord Ram.

“Lord Ram is an integral part of Hindu faith” and his existence can never be doubted, said Union Law Minister H R Bharadwaj. He announced the Government would on Friday file a supplementary affidavit on the Sethusamudram canal project before the Supreme Court and the Archaeological Survey of India’s affidavit will be cleansed of offending remarks.

The ASI affidavit, which was filed to explain the Government’s position on the Sethusamudram project, embarrassed the Government and gave ammunition to its political rivals, as it claimed that mythological texts cannot be regarded as “historical record” and they don’t prove the existence of characters mentioned in those texts.

Sources tell CNN-IBN Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has sought a clarification from the Government on the affidavit and take “remedial measures”.

The controversy has given the BJP a chance to embarrass the government. Party president Rajnath Singh on Thursday rejected the Government’s explanation and demanded an “unqualified” apology.

BRIDGE OF CONTROVERSY

bulletRam Setu is a mythical bridge southeast of Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu, connecting with the Talaimanar coast of Sri Lanka.

bulletHindu groups say the Rs 2087-Sethusamudram project, which will build a canal from the west coast of India to the east coast without going around Sri Lanka, will damage the Setu. Work on the project began in July 2005.

bulletHindu groups believe Lord Ram’s army built the Setu to cross over to Sri Lanka and rescue Sita. The Government says the Setu (bridge) is actually a natural, 30-km-long chain of sand banks.

bulletThe Supreme Court has restrained the government from causing any damage to the Setu.

bulletThe Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project will dredge a channel in a narrow strip of sea between India and Sri Lanka, reducing distances and cutting costs for freight traffic.

BRIDGE OF CONTROVERSY

bulletRam Setu is a mythical bridge southeast of Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu, connecting with the Talaimanar coast of Sri Lanka.

bulletHindu groups say the Rs 2087-Sethusamudram project, which will build a canal from the west coast of India to the east coast without going around Sri Lanka, will damage the Setu. Work on the project began in July 2005.

bulletHindu groups believe Lord Ram’s army built the Setu to cross over to Sri Lanka and rescue Sita. The Government says the Setu (bridge) is actually a natural, 30-km-long chain of sand banks.

bulletThe Supreme Court has restrained the government from causing any damage to the Setu.

bulletThe Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project will dredge a channel in a narrow strip of sea between India and Sri Lanka, reducing distances and cutting costs for freight traffic.

http://www.ibnlive.com/news/oh-god-upa-red-faced-says-lord-ram-existed/48589-3.html

For historians, Ram remains a myth
14 Sep 2007, 0128 hrs IST,Atul Sethi,TNN

NEW DELHI: Did Ram exist? It’s a question that has pitted historians against believers time and again. While historians cite lack of evidence to say Ram was a mythical personality, those who believe otherwise claim that significant evidence exists to confirm that Ram existed in flesh and blood. So, where does the truth lie?
According to R P Tripathi, professor of ancient history at Allahabad University, “History requires concrete evidence in the form of coins, inscriptions, etc to prove the existence of a character. Even if we take into account places mentioned in the Ramayana like Chitrakoot, Ayodhya, which still exist, the fact is that Ramayana is not a historical text. So, from that perspective, there is no historical evidence available of Ram. Having said that, we still cannot negate Ram’s presence easily, since he has been a part of our collective consciousness for a long time.”
“In fact, it is precisely because of this, that we cannot look at Ram objectively, since he has made the transition from being simply a character in an epic to a religious figure,” says S Settar, former chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research. “In mythology, there are many characters who have been similarly mentioned. Does that mean that they all existed?” he asks. So, are all mythical texts just that — only myth? Or, is there, somewhere, a grain of truth in them?” Myths have to be carefully interpreted to find that grain of truth. In Ramayana’s case, there is no evidence to prove that it is anything else except a myth. There is also no evidence — either historical or archaeological — which proves that Ram ever existed or that he ruled Ayodhya,” claims Settar.
However, there are some who beg to differ. “If archaeology cannot prove whether a temple existed at Ayodhya or a mosque just 500 years ago, what help can it render in establishing historical events more than 7,000 years ago?” asks Pushkar Bhatanagar, author of the book, Dating The Era Of Lord Ram. “If the masons of those times failed to construct buildings which could survive seven millennia, an inference should not be drawn that the country had no inhabitants at that time or that Ram is a myth,” he adds.
However, history requires substantial evidence that can satisfy all academics, says R S Bisht, former Jt DG of the ASI. “Historical evidence has been found about such personalities as Ashoka, who left behind edicts. Unless similar evidence is found about personalities like Ram, it will be difficult to prove their existence,” he says.
Will such evidence ever be found, considering that the cities of that time have been built several times over? Nobody knows. For the time being, however, Ram remains a myth, at least in the eyes of history.
atul.sethi@timesgroup.com

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/For_historians_Ram_remains_a_myth/articleshow/2367074.cms

Ram Sethu: Govt admits mistake

NDTV Correspondent

Thursday, September 13, 2007 (New Delhi)

The government has admitted that its affidavit filed in the Sethu Samudran Canal project was a mistake.
Union Law Minister Hans Raj Bhardwaj has said the government will withdraw the offending remarks from the affidavit and file a fresh one.
He further clarified that Lord Ram cannot be made subject to a debate.
The move comes soon after Congress President Sonia Gandhi stepped in to do some damage control in the wake of the controversy over the Centre’s affidavit in the Supreme Court doubting the existence of Lord Ram.
Sonia has asked the government to clarify on what basis the Supreme Court was told that there is no proof of the existence of Lord Ram.
Highly-placed sources said she directed the government to take immediate remedial steps, which made the Centre to act on a warfooting.
Stepping up the offensive, BJP President LK Advani asked whether the government would ever dare to make such a statement about any religion other than Hinduism.
”This affidavit could not have been filed in a casual manner. Some thinking must have gone into it. Ministerial responsibility must also be fixed. Under whose guidance was this affidavit filed?” said Advani.
Also dipping her oars into the troubled waters is AIADMK Chief J Jayalalithaa, who has seized this opportunity against arch rival M Karunanidhi in the Sethusamudram Project.
Jayalalithaa has filed a petition in the Supreme Court to protect the Ram Setu and declare it as a national monument.
Nationwide agitation
Sonia’s direction came against the backdrop of the BJP and Sangh Parivar outfits raring to make the Ram Sethu issue one of its major planks to consolidate its Hindutva vote bank and attack the Congress for playing politics of minority appeasement.
Incidentally, Law and Justice Minister H R Bhardwaj had a meeting with Leader of the Opposition L K Advani last night where the minister said in no uncertain terms that Lord Ram is a matter of faith.
Her intervention led to the government’s decision to withdraw the controversial parts of the affidavit filed in the apex court on Thursday questioning the existence of Lord Ram.
The Sangh Parivar has raised objections to the project, saying it would demolish the Ram Sethu bridge, which according to the Ramyana, was built when Lord Ram crossed over to Sri Lanka.
The saffron brigade has threatened a nationwide agitation against the government for hurting religious sentiments.
”Lord Ram existed but there is no Sethu. A lot of things happen geographically. BJP is just making an issue out of the whole thing,” said Lalu Prasad Yadav, Union Railway Minister.
Bone of contention
At the center of the storm is a thin ridge-like formation between India and Sri Lanka which is formed of sand, limestone and coral and is known as Ram Sethu or Adam’s bridge.
According to the epic Ramayana, the bridge was built by Lord Ram’s army of monkeys, when he needed to cross over to Lanka.
The Sethu Samudram Ship Channel Project envisages dredging a channel across the Palk Strait between India and Sri Lanka.
At present ships coming to the peninsula have to circumnavigate Sri Lanka. But this project, when completed, will shorten the journey by 785 km, cutting down travel time by nearly 30 hours.

(With wire inputs)

http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx?id=NEWEN20070025980

Ram Setu: BJP seeks apology from PM, Sonia Gandhi

New Delhi, Sept 13: Targeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi on the Ram affidavit row, senior BJP leader L K Advani on Thursday demanded their apology for “hurting” religious sentiments of Hindus and ministerial accountability in the matter.
The former Deputy Prime Minister also wanted the government to withdraw its affidavit before the Supreme Court describing it as “blasphemous and arrogant” after disapproving of its decision to file a supplementary document in connection with the Sethusamudram Project.
“It(affidavit) is pouring contempt on crores of Hindus in the country and on Hindus abroad,” Advani told a news conference as he announced that his party`s youth wing and state units would hold demonstration tomorrow and burn copies of the Centre`s affidavit that said there is no evidence to establish existence of Lord Ram.
The BJP leader said the affidavit issue would be part of its election campaign.
“Surely, it will be mentioned,” he said when asked whether his party would flag the matter in its election campaign. Advani was of the view that mid-term polls would be held next year.
“Your are giving me a suggestion. I will certainly consider it,” he said when asked whether he planned a Rath Yatra over the issue. Advani also had a meeting with party office-bearers and MPs on the Ram affidavit issue.
He said the government must ensure protection of the Ram Setu, an undersea bridge believed to be built by Lord Ram, by redesigning the Setusamudram Waterway Project.
“An inquiry panel should be set up to fix the ministerial responsiblity for this blunder (affidavit),” he said.
In Agartala, BJP president Rajnath Singh demanded that the Culture Minister be dismissed if found involved in approving the government affidavit.
Advani, who accused the ruling UPA of communalism, said a petition under the Right to Information Act might reveal the origin and path of the controversial affidavit.
The BJP leader, who flayed the submission as the most perverse reflection of pseudo-secularism, alleged that it was a well thought-out move and not a casual one.
“There should be a touchstone. Can you dare say any such thing about any other faith?”, he asked, alleging Hindus have become victims of pesudo-secularism. “In one stroke of its legal pen, the government has sought to negate all that the Hindus consider sacred in their faith. … The government has wounded the very idea of India and sought to rewrite the civilizational identity of our nation.”
He insisted that the Prime Minister and the UPA chairperson, whom he called the “real” leader of the government, cannot abandon responsibility for the affidavit.
Advani warned of “massive, sustained and peaceful protest action” if his party`s demands in connection with the affidavit were not met immediately.
The BJP leader, who is due to meet AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa on September 19, claimed she too supported his party`s stand on the issue.
He said he spoke to her on phone today. “She agreed that it was highly objectionable.”
Bureau Report

http://tinyurl.com/2c29fm

Government should withdraw ASI’s `Ram Setu’ affidavit and apologise: Rajnath Singh
By Pinaki Das

Agartala, Sept.13: Visiting BJP President Rajnath Singh said on Thursday that the UPA Government should withdraw the Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) affidavit relating to the mythological “Ram Setu” from the Supreme Court and apologise for injuring Hindu sentiments.
Addressing a press conference here, Singh said that the Congress party of Mahatma Gandhi had dreamed of a “Ramrajya” during the freedom struggle and in the ensuing decades thereafter, and now, it was stating that there was no historical or scientific evidence to establish the existence of Lord Ram or any other Indian mythological character.
The affidavit filed by the ASI on Wednesday denying that the Ram Setu was man made and that Tulsidas’s famous Ramcharitmanas should be read as a historical record, was an attack on the beliefs of a particular religion and its people.
Endorsing the demand of Hindu groups to urge the government to stop the proposed Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project (SSCP), which aims to provide a shorter sea route between India’s Palk Bay and Sri Lanka’s Gulf of Mannar, a reduction in travel distance of more than 650 km for larger ships, Singh said it would demolish Lord Ram’s bridge.
The ASI, on the other hand, maintains that the “Ram Setu” is a natural formation made up of shoals/sand bars, which are possessed of their particular shape and has formed due to wave action and sedimentation over several millennia.
Rajnath Singh charged the government with trying to challenge the established beliefs of people, and warned that such steps could precipitate inter-religious conflict in India.
Giving his view on the signing of the Indo-US nuclear deal, Singh said that the country should have a law to defend its national interests in the matter of its sovereign right to conduct nuclear tests and reprocess spent fuels.
Referring to the Hyde Act, which empowers the American President and the administration to work with the Nuclear Suppliers Group, he said India should also have a law to defend its national interests.
However, he maintained that there is provision in the Article 253 of the Indian Constitution for necessary rectification of any international agreement which the Congress led UPA Government denies.
He alleged that the Left Front is practicing double standards and was not honest in opposing the Indo-US nuclear deal.
Denying any type the reflection of expert opinion poll assessment in the results Singh said that the BJP is ready for a mid term poll, which he said could take place as early as December.
Copyright Dailyindia.com/ANI

http://tinyurl.com/2gupab

Sethusamudram or Shri Ram Sethu?

Tarun Kanti Das

13 September 2007, Thursday

The beneficial fallout of the Sethusamudram project is not questioned. NASA evidence suggests that Ram Sethu could be the remains of a man-made bridge. If the project can be modified to save the bridge, why the government hesitates in doing so?

THE SETHUSAMUDRAM shipping canal project has been approved by the government of India and work is all set to begin near the Kodhanda Ram temple. The project involves linking Palk Gulf and Gulf Mannar through a shipping canal off Rameshwaram Island. This will allow ships and boats to navigate through the passage between India and Sri Lanka without having to circle Sri Lanka (as is being done presently). This may save about 400 nautical miles of voyage on the west coast.

This project will connect the national sea route. It will also connect the national highways. The route that the ships take will be shortened as a result. Rs. 21 crores per year by way of fuel expenditure incurred in respect of the ships will be saved. Today India imports a huge quantity of crude oil. Saving fuel will save foreign currency. Since the time taken by the ships will decrease by 16 hours, the number of ships that will opt for the proposed route is expected to increase.

Pictures taken by NASA [The National Aeronautics & Space Administration], USA from the space, show the remains of what appears to be an age-old, man-made bridge between Rameshwaram and Sri Lanka. According to Hindu scriptures and belief, Lord Ram and his Vaanar Sena built a bridge from Rameshwaram to Sri Lanka 17, 25,000 years ago. The discovery of Shri Ram Sethu by NASA confirms what is stated in the Hindu scriptures and the commonly-held belief. It also confirms that Ramayan is not “mythology” as is often construed but “history”.

The Sethusamudram project is based on the notion that it is inevitable to dismantle the Shri Ram Sethu for easy navigation. This will amount to damaging a monument of historical and religious importance.

According to experts, a sea route may be prepared for navigation without damaging the Sri Ram Sethu, by removing the barren sand heaps near Mandapam village between Rameshwaram and Dhanushkodi. This will not only provide a shorter route for navigation but also protect the oldest man-made heritage.

The President of Bharat is requested to order the redesigning of the project keeping in view the historical and religious importance of Shri Ram Sethu, the sentiments of the people of India and the alternative suggested (to shorten the sea route). I also want to put the following questions to the government:

Questions to Government:

  1. Why was the Metro route passing ’close’ to Qutub Minar in New Delhi, modified and later reworked fearing prospective damages to this 815- year old man-made monument?
  2. Why was the Taj project corridor (which would have generated lots of money for our money-minded government) put off after environmentalists raised a hue and cry fearing any construction near the Taj ’may’ damage the 359-year old man-made monument? Please note that the environmentalists only ‘feared’ that the monument might be damaged; they did not state it would be damaged!
  3. Will any government in China destroy or even alter the Great Wall of Chi-na (2,695 years old) for the sake of money?
  4. Will any one allow pulling down the 4,507 year-old Pyramids of Egypt in lieu of any amount of money?

If the answer is NO, then why this 17,25,000-year-old, man-made monument is being destroyed for the sake of some coins?

http://www.merinews.com/catFull.jsp?articleID=126384

VHP men block roads as protest against Sethu project

New Delhi, Sept. 13 (PTI): Road and Rail traffic was disrupted, but there was no major violence during a blockade Wednesday by thousands of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists across the country in protest against constructing a sea lane on India’s southern tip, which, it says will destroy a mythological bridge.

Police resorted to lathicharge and fired in air at some places as hundreds of activists of VHP were arrested when they tried to enforce a three-hour ‘chakka jam’ during morning peak hour from 8 a.m., affecting school and office-goers. Activists of the RSS, BJP and ABVP also joined the protest rallies from Jammu to the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

The activists targetted trains at several places leaving them stranded leading to delays by one to two hours. The Delhi-Dehra Dun Shatbadi and Howrh-Barbil Shatabdi was detained at Saharanpur and Tatanagar stations respectively for a couple of hours.

A Patna report said agitators smashed the windscreen of the engine of Dehri-Patna inter-city express at Jehanabad.

The activists squatted in railway tracks at several stations and also at stretches of major arterial roads at many places. About 20 activists entered the Indore railway station and made a vain bid to disrupt the movement of trains.

Jammu witnessed a partial bandh as shops, schools and business establishments were closed. Activists also closed the Pathankot-Jammu-Srinagar highway.

The VHP took to the roads to protest against the Centre’s decision to go ahead with the Sethusamudram project which envisages dredging Ram Setu bridge, the mythological bridge mentioned in Ramayana epic.

The geographical feature linking the southern tip of India to Sri Lanka is also known as Adam’s bridge, a string of small islands, which according to Hindu mythology was built by an army of monkeys led by Lord Ram to recapture his wife from demon King Ravana in Sri Lanka.

http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/004200709130355.htm

Don’t politicise Ram Setu campaign: VHP

Thursday, September 13, 2007 20:01 [IST]
PTI

New Delhi: With the Ayodhya movement at the back of its mind, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) today said it would not allow “politicisation” of its Ram Setu campaign.

“It’s a policy decision that only sants (religious leaders) and non-political organisations will lead the Ram Setu campaign,” VHP leader Praveen Togadia told PTI.

His comments came barely hours after senior BJP leader L K Advani, whom the VHP had on numerous occasions flayed for not keeping the promise to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya while being in power, declared that his party would raise as an election issue the government’s affidavit on Ram Setu in connection with the Sethusamudram project.

“We have decided we will not allow politicisation of this campaign,” Togadia said, a day after VHP activists held widespread protests over the Sethusamudram waterway project that they say would damage an undersea Palk Strait bridge believed to have been built by Lord Ram.

Togadia, however, named no political leader in particular. 

http://news.indiainfo.com/2007/09/13/bjp-vhp_0709132010.html

Centre compelled to disregard Ram Setu: Joshi

Published on Thursday , September 13, 2007 at 18:15

New Delhi: Senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi claims marine scientists have proof of a manmade bridge at the Sethusamudram canal site.

Bhupendra Chaubey: Mr Joshi, you are being charged with politicizing the Sethusamudram issue. Are you trying to do that?

MM Joshi: Not the least. On the contrary if you had seen the debate in Rajya Sabha, leaders of Shiv Sena, AIADMK and even RJD said Ram Setu should be preserved as a historical monument. Leaders from socialist parties said it’s a historical monument. Marine archaeologists have now come out clearly that coral stones found on the top of this bridge are of not this region at all.

Bhupendra Chaubey: What do you make of the Centre’s affidavit in the Supreme Court, saying that the Ram Setu doesn’t exist?

MM Joshi: Well, the Central Government has its own compulsions. One compulsion is from the Communist parties and the other from DMK. They have to play to the tunes of these two parties. I say it’s not only minority appeasement but totally succumbing totally and unabashedly to minority demand. By minority I mean the minority in the Government.

http://www.ibnlive.com/news/centre-compelled-to-disregard-ram-setu-joshi/48596-3-2.html

After gaffe, Cong mulls damage control
14 Sep 2007, 0121 hrs IST,TNN

NEW DELHI: Even though he sees himself as a “muscular secularist”, RJD boss and railway minister Lalu Prasad can recognise a political minefield when he sees one. Refusing to set off more implosions over the Ram Setu, the shrewd leader said, “Ram is a matter of faith which cannot be questioned. He lives in the hearts of millions.”
The response was the reflex of most in government and a large section of Congress which feel that the Centre’s gaffe in turning a defence of the Sethusamudram project into a negation of the characters and events in Ramayana was not only ill-considered, but had given precious ammunition to BJP.
The anxiety surfaced as the meeting of the Union cabinet dispersed on Thursday. A usually reticent social justice minister Meira Kumar couldn’t help inquiring from law minister H R Bhardwaj, “Yeh kya karwa diya aap logon ne? (What have you done),” with regard to the offending affidavit. Bhardwaj is understood to have mumbled that the mistake would be set right.
With many feeling that a potent issue had been needlessly handed over to the BJP searching for issues, Congress was left in a spot, mulling urgent damage-control measures. These included altering the paragraphs of its affidavit and making it known that party chief Sonia Gandhi had been displeased with the slip-up and had sought a course correction.
Congress insiders were quick to realise that by creating an “issue of faith”, government had provided an opportunity for BJP to put Sonia in its cross-hairs. BJP leader L K Advani did not let down this expectation when he said she could not evade “responsibility” for the government’s stance and demanded an “apology”.
While the blame was laid at the doorstep of the government, with law ministry owning up, Sonia’s intervention was seen to have led the government to retrace its steps. It was pointed out that the party president reacted early in the day and made it clear that the affidavit was unacceptable.
Even much after law minister had announced that a fresh affidavit would be filed in court, there was a huddle of senior leaders to assess the political damage and its future implications. The timing could not have been worse.
Already battling the Left over the nuke deal and polls shadows looming, it was hardly clever to give the BJP an issue as well. Particularly when Congress was backing a series of pro-minority measures. The lack of application in the affidavit was unpardonable, many Congress MPs felt. There could be a fallout in Gujarat. A state prone to polarisation, this could help BJP even as the saffron party made it evident that it was would target the Centre over Sachar initiatives.
Congress has been trying hard to shore up its fortunes in a state where it has failed to vanquish BJP chief minister Narendra Modi in two attempts. The move to annex Gujarat has been led by Sonia herself, who has been holding public programmes for around an year to mobilise the voters.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-2367068,prtpage-1.cms

Friday September 14, 2007 Central Chronicle

Tension over Ram Setu 

Indians, specially Hindus, have been stirred up over the issue of Lord Rama. Ram Setu, also known as Adams bridge in English, faces demolition for construction of an ambitious channel project. This has been taken as an affront by the Hindu organisations which called for a three-hour chakka jam on Wednesday. Several incidents of sabotage and violence were reported which is not good considering the issue pertains to Lord Rama, who is regarded as a noble king for the Hindu community. There is no restriction in democracy. People may express their opposition to issues but there should not be damage to public property and harming other peace loving people. There should be way of everlasting of oppose. If we put truth and non-violence in it then the oppose would be effective. Indian Archaeological Survey has created a new dispute in connection of Ram Setu which has become a hurdle in Setu Samudram Project. Government has said in its affidavit presented in Supreme Court that there is no any proof which could sufficient in proving Lord Rama or existence of other characters of Ramayana. According to union government, Ram Setu is not a man made structure but a natural structure made of sand. It is necessary to think over the attitude of government and without talking on the issue only there is need to think abot the negative tendency of on Rama and other characters. It is welknown that Ram lives in the hearts of Indian masses and he has been given name of Lord. People of all communities believe his models and follow his path. Famous poet said him Imame-Hind. In such conditions , refusing his existence is a dangerous thing so the tendency of hurting the sentiments should be avoided. Rama is a mythological character. His physical evidence is impossible but it looks in the myths from Sri Lanka to Kashmir. If we talk over the ancient examples then it would not be completed without Rama and Krishna. How did ASI come in the form of challenging Rama’s existence, there is need to talk over it. There is need to think over temples, mountains , hills and waterfalls too. It is the duty of ASI to prove that when Rama, Krishna and other mythological characters were existed. It would be foolish to told the mythological characters imaginary. People should not create scenes of violence and agitation.  

http://www.centralchronicle.com/20070914/1409281.htm

India e-news

Space photos no proof of Ram Setu: NASA

US space agency NASA says pictures taken by its astronauts do not prove the existence or otherwise of a manmade Ram Setu bridge as mentioned in the Hindu epic Ramayana.

From correspondents in Washington, United States, 14 Sep 2007 – (http://www.indiaenews.com)

US space agency NASA says pictures taken by its astronauts do not prove the existence or otherwise of a manmade Ram Setu bridge as mentioned in the Hindu epic Ramayana.

‘I am not aware of any carbon dating either,’ said NASA spokesman Michael Braukus, refuting claims by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that the agency had the Adam’s bridge in Palk Strait – known as Ram Setu in India – carbon dated as being 1.7 million years old.

‘Some people have taken pictures taken by our astronauts to make their claim. No position can be taken on the basis of these photographs in any way,’ Braukus said when asked to comment on the controversy surrounding the site of the proposed Rs.24 billion Sethusamudram canal project off India’s southern tip.

‘The age, substratum, geological structure or anthropological status of the ocean bed in Palk strait cannot be determined by the astronauts’ photographs. So there is no basis for these claims,’ Braukus said.

Back in October 2002 too the US agency had rebutted a story circulated by an Indian news agency based on claims made by a couple of NRI websites and Hindu news services that ‘space images taken by NASA’ had revealed ‘a mysterious ancient bridge in the Palk Strait’.

‘Remote sensing images or photographs from orbit cannot provide direct information about the origin or age of a chain of islands, and certainly cannot determine whether humans were involved in producing any of the patterns seen,’ NASA official Mark Hess had said then.

‘The mysterious bridge was nothing more than a 30 km long, naturally-occurring chain of sandbanks called Adam’s bridge,’ Hess had added. ‘NASA had been taking pictures of these shoals for years. Its images had never resulted in any scientific discovery in the area.

‘The images reproduced on the websites may well be ours, but their interpretation is certainly not ours,’ Hess had said, referring to the NRI websites.

The report on the Internet that had appeared five years ago had also claimed ‘archaeological studies reveal that the first signs of human inhabitants in Sri Lanka date back to…about 1.75 million years ago’ as does the age of the bridge.

The controversy over the Sethusamudram canal project had got a new lease of life Wednesday when Vishwa Hindu Parishad activists blocked roads all over India to protest the project that, they say, will damage Ram Setu.

The same day, the government submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court in which the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) said there were no historical records to prove the existence of a manmade Ram Setu. The Ramayana says Lord Ram’s army had built a bridge across the sea to Lanka (now Sri Lanka) on their way to battle the demon king Ravana.

The affidavit prepared by ASI had gone on to say there were no historical records to prove the existence of Lord Ram either, sparking off a furore with the BJP alleging the affidavit had hurt the faith of millions of Hindus and the government scrambling for damage control with the promise that it would ‘amend its mistake’ and submit a fresh supplementary affidavit to the Supreme Court Friday.

By Arun Kumar (Staff Writer, © IANS)

Read more at: http://www.indiaenews.com/america/20070914/70172.htm

Sethusamudram And The Hyper-reality Of Ram
15 Sep 2007, 0035 hrs IST,Jug Suraiya
SMS NEWS to 58888 for latest updates

Is the Ram of the Ramayan for real? Years after the Ramjanambhoomi controversy reached eruption point with the demolition of the Babri masjid, the ‘reality’ of Ram is once again the cause of impassioned debate and mass agitations which disrupt public order.
The source of contention is the Sethusamudram project which proposes to dredge an 83-km-long canal through the sea channel separating India and Sri Lanka, thereby facilitating shipping. However, the sangh parivar has contented that the dredging operations would destroy the ‘Ram Setu’, built by Ram to cross over into Lanka, which would deeply
offend the sensibilities of millions of devotees. The Indian government cited the Archaeological Survey to plead in court that while the Ram legend is an integral part of Indic civilisation and literature, it is not based on ‘historical records’. In short, Ram isn’t for real.
But of course he isn’t, Ram’s devotees might well respond. Ram isn’t real, he is much more; he’s hyper-real. Hyper-reality could be described as that intangible supporting structure that adds significance to our everyday reality which can be weighed and measured and tallied on a balance sheet of profit and loss. Art is an example of hyper-reality
(Hamlet never existed, but he’s more ‘real’ than any person we will ever meet). The love of a mother willing to sacrifice her life for her child is another example of the power of hyper-reality.
As is spiritual belief, in Ram, or Jesus, or Allah. Hyper-reality transforms existence into life. Rubbish, realists would say. Life is about progress, not superstition and mumbo-jumbo. Trouble is, how ‘real’, or progressive, is progress? Environmentalists have joined forces with the parivar in opposing the Sethusamudram project which the greens fear will wreak ecological havoc.
Is environmentalism, often contrasted with progress, also mumbo-jumbo, along with religious belief? Is global warming as much a myth as Ram? Many proponents of progress might say so. Critics, on the other hand, would say it’s becoming increasingly difficult to weigh the benefits of progress as against its costs. Not least because the standard kilogram, devised 118 years ago and hermetically sealed in Paris, is mysteriously losing weight. Not much, just 50 microns (which is about as much as the weight of a fingerprint) over the years. But still, the kg, a foundation stone of
reality as distinct from fiction, myth or hyper-reality, is different from what it was, is changeable, whether it’s
because of proton decay or some other ‘real’ reason no one knows.
So, does today’s reality weigh (50 microns) less than yesterday’s? A perplexing thought. As much so as thinking what would happen if Ram (or Hamlet) went on a diet. Can a myth shed weight like a real kilo can? Presumably not. In which case is the myth, or hyper-reality, more real, in the sense of being more constant, than reality?
Perhaps the real and the hyper-real are inextricable components of the same merry-go-round. As a modern scientist put it: “Reality is what we take to be true. What we take to be true is what we believe. What we believe is based upon our percepts. What we perceive depends on what we look for. What we look for depends on what we perceive. What we perceive determines what we believe. What we believe determines what we take to be true. What we take to be true is our reality.”
Sethusamudram or Ram Setu? Progress or belief? Take your pick. Only don’t do so on the streets, inconveniencing your neighbour. Be it Ram, or anyone else.
http://spirituality.indiatimes.com

http://tinyurl.com/37ry3l

Sept. 14, 2007

On Adams Bridge (Ram Setu) Controversy

Confused | Current Affairs

ASI’s affidavit in the Supreme Court stating that historical evidence doesn’t prove the existence of Rama and other characters of Ramayana has led to to a huge controversy. As always, the blogosphere has much to say,

Jaafna think that secular governments shouldn’t comment on religious beliefs,

 No secular Government has the prerogative to pontificate on religion unless the public good is adversely impacted. Rama and the Ramayana transcend history. They belong to the realm of religion and assume an importance independent of historical empiricism. While the ASI had the undeniable right to challenge the VHP’s position on the Sethusamudram canal, it had no authority to question the historicity of Rama

Greatbong on the other hand wonders if the tales his grandmother told him were all false,

When I heard the news of the ASI’s submission to the court I was like “Dude…what are those people trying to say ! By stating that “no historically valid proof of Rama’s existence exists” they surely are not implying that the entire Ramayana is a figment of our collective imagination and that Rama is simply a mythical icon that represents the best of humanity—are they?” What next? Are they going to tell us that monkeys who wore clothes and fought with weapons and constructed bridges across seas never existed?Or that Ravana really didn’t have ten heads? Or that Sita was not really swallowed up by the earth? And most importantly there never was a talking bear named Jambavana?

Reality Check has an interesting FAQ on the entire controversy.

Q 1. Is the Ram Sethu an underwater bridge connecting India and Sri Lanka ?

Yes. It connects to Sri Lanka at a place called Talaimannar (not Jaffna – Yazhpaanam) The bridge is to the north of the port of Tuticorin. This means large ships between Chennai and Tuticorin (within the same state of TN) have to circumnavigate Sri Lanka. Small ships have no problem, see below.

http://www.desipundit.com/2007/09/14/on-adams-bridge-ram-setu-controversy/

VHP protests against Sethusamudram project

Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) staged countrywide blockades on Wednesday against the governments plan to go ahead with the Sethusamudram project.

New Delhi/Patna, Sept. 12 : The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) staged countrywide blockades on Wednesday against the government’s plan to go ahead with the Sethusamudram project.

In New Delhi, the VHP activists blocked traffic at several places.

“We have been requesting the government for the past one year to stop the project but they are not listening. Therefore, we have organised blockade all over the country from 8.00 am till 11.00 pm today. It has been successful,” saidamkrishna Srivastava, a VHP leader.

The scene was similar in Indore where the protestors tried to halt trains. Some protestors were arrested by police.

In Ayodhaya, considered birthplace of Lord Rama, Hindu seers took to the streets to protest against the project.

In Patna, protestors were successful in halting train traffic for a few hours.

“We oppose the Congress and UPA Government and warn them to wake up to the sentiments of people. Or people will not forgive them and throw them out of power,” said Nitin Navin, a BJP legislator.

The VHP is opposing the 560 million dollars Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project, which they say would destroy the Ram Sethu, a 48- kilometer chain of limestone shoals that once linked Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu to Mannar inri Lanka.

Hindu groups have called on the government to stop the project, saying it will demolish a bridge linking India and Sri Lanka, believed to have been built by Lord Ram.

The 560-million dollar Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project will dredge a channel in a narrow strip of sea between India and Sri Lanka, reducing distances and cutting costs for freight traffic.

According to the Central Government, research has shown that the bridge was a series of sand shoals created by sedimentation.

Dredging for the project began in 2005 and the channel — 12 metres deep, 300 metres wide and almost 90 km long — will provide a crucial link between the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar.

When the project is completed, ships sailing between India’s western and eastern coasts will no longer have to go around Sri Lanka, and are expected to save up to 36 hours of sailing time.

The project has also sparked protests by other groups including conservationists and local fishermen, who say the dredging will mean dumping sediment in deeper water further out to sea.

This and increased freight traffic will harm marine life and threaten the livelihood of thousands of fishermen in both countries.

ANI

http://www.andhranews.net/India/2007/September/12-protests-against-15261.asp

VHP protests against Sethusamudram project (Lead: VHP)

Wednesday September 12, 02:32 PM

New Delhi/Patna, Sept. 12 (ANI): The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) staged countrywide blockades on Wednesday against the government’s plan to go ahead with the Sethusamudram project.

In New Delhi, the VHP activists blocked traffic at several places.

“We have been requesting the government for the past one year to stop the project but they are not listening. Therefore, we have organised blockade all over the country from 8.00 am till 11.00 pm today. It has been successful,” saidamkrishna Srivastava, a VHP leader.

The scene was similar in Indore where the protestors tried to halt trains. Some protestors were arrested by police.

In Ayodhaya, considered birthplace of Lord Rama, Hindu seers took to the streets to protest against the project.

In Patna, protestors were successful in halting train traffic for a few hours.

“We oppose the Congress and UPA Government and warn them to wake up to the sentiments of people. Or people will not forgive them and throw them out of power,” said Nitin Navin, a BJP legislator.

The VHP is opposing the 560 million dollars Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project, which they say would destroy the Ram Sethu, a 48- kilometer chain of limestone shoals that once linked Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu to Mannar inri Lanka.

Hindu groups have called on the government to stop the project, saying it will demolish a bridge linking India and Sri Lanka, believed to have been built by Lord Ram.

The 560-million dollar Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project will dredge a channel in a narrow strip of sea between India and Sri Lanka, reducing distances and cutting costs for freight traffic.

According to the Central Government, research has shown that the bridge was a series of sand shoals created by sedimentation.

Dredging for the project began in 2005 and the channel — 12 metres deep, 300 metres wide and almost 90 km long — will provide a crucial link between the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar.

When the project is completed, ships sailing between India’s western and eastern coasts will no longer have to go around Sri Lanka, and are expected to save up to 36 hours of sailing time.

The project has also sparked protests by other groups including conservationists and local fishermen, who say the dredging will mean dumping sediment in deeper water further out to sea.

This and increased freight traffic will harm marine life and threaten the livelihood of thousands of fishermen in both countries. (ANI)

http://tinyurl.com/2padyb

Withdraw affidavit on Ramasethu: BJP to Centre
Wednesday September 12 2007 19:57 IST

UNI

JAIPUR: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday urged the Centre to withdraw an affidavit jointly submitted by the government and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to the Supreme Court, denying the authenticity of mythological importance to the Ramasethu.
Talking to reporters here, BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said the affidavit before the apex court was a bid to deny the authenticity of Ramayana and all of its events.
He said this was utter insult to ancient Hindu heritage and belief and it was not tolerable at any cost.
Alleging that the UPA government was doing so at the behest of the Church and Leftist supporters, Mr Javadekar said Wednesday’s nation-wide agitation was an expression of anguish by the people and the government must not hurt the religious sensibilities of public.
”If the government fails to withdraw the affidavit, the BJP and other like-minded people will resort to agitation. The Sethusamudram project could be implemented without touching the Ramasethu and the government should opt for other options without destroying the”symbol of our mythological heritage”, Javadekar said.

http://tinyurl.com/yqfno5

Go for it but don’t damage it: Jaya

NT Bureau
Chennai, Sept 13:

        Close on the heels of the nation-wide rail and road- roko on the Rama Sethu issue by the Hindu outfits and the BJP, AIADMK general secretary J Jayalalithaa today reiterated that the Central government should implement the Sethu Samudram Ship Canal project (SSSCP) without destroying the bridge.

        In a statement here, the AIADMK chief wondered as to what was the necessity to demolish the ancient monument when there were alternative plans for the completion of SSSCP.

        Explaining that her party was for the Sethu project without damaging the Ramar bridge, Jayalalithaa said the Centre had been given about half- a- dozen alternative proposals for the completion of the SSSCP without damaging the Sethu. She wanted the Union government to explore the possibility of building a channel by choosing an alternative plan.

        Taking a dig at Union Minister for Shipping and Surface Transport T R Baalu for trying to go ahead with the project without understanding the sentiments of the people, the AIADMK supremo said it was undemocratic and condemnable.

        ‘Ignoring the opposition and without bothering to examine the after- effects {of demolishing the Ram sethu} the Centre is adamant in going ahead with the scheme,’ she said and added that some anti-people forces were behind it.

        Jayalalithaa also alleged that Chief Minister M Karunanidhi and Baalu were not concerned over Tamilnadu and were acting like self-centered people.

        ‘The AIADMK registers its strong protest on the attitude of Baalu, which is against the wishes of the people of India and amounts to injustice to nature,’ she said.

http://newstodaynet.com/13sep/ld5.htm

Gods of a lesser children

T R JAWAHAR

Some ‘communal’ talk would be in order this week. It is no secret that in India that is not Bharat, it is deemed secular to put down Hindu religion and deride its beliefs. And this secularism gets even more shine if the other faiths are indulged simultaneously. Three recent events come as telling pointers to the fact that this twin-track secularism is not just official state policy but has also been perfected as a political ploy.

We will begin at home, TN, which is ruled by the ultimate rationalist whose hobbies include, besides starting TV channels, attending felicitation functions and watching movie premieres, Hindu-baiting. The CM at a recent function in Mahabalipuram had discovered and declared that ‘this Ganapathy is not a native of our place. He was born in Vatapi and was brought here’. K’s pathological sadism is evident from the timing of his sarcastic remarks, which have come on the eve of Ganesha Chathurthi, but we will take it in our stride as being better than a greeting from him.

K is no believer in Ganapathy, or for that matter, any God. Correction. Any ‘Hindu’ God. Again, he hails from a movement whose leader made a career out of garlanding Gods –Hindu Gods — particularly Ganapathy and Rama, with slippers. Now how does it matter to K if Ganapathy came from Vatapi or Vatican? Of course, many historians and archaeologists have since proved that Ganapathy worship prevailed in TN much before Vatapi Ganapathy was brought as a victory trophy by the Pallavas in 7th century AD. Again, Periyar himself hailed from Karnataka where Vatapi, now Badami, lies. So why does K single out Pillaiyar even while sparing Periyar? And what coincidence — Kalaignar TV is set for launch on Ganesh Chathurthi, though the world is told that it is timed for the birth anniversaries of Periyar and Anna. Aah, how Ganapathy blesses even rationalists who revile Him!

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court in the Sethu Project case that there is no evidence that Rama and the characters in Ramayana ever existed. The ASI, besides other things, is vested with the job of protecting and preserving monuments. There is no stipulation that a monument’s history should be certified or established beyond all ‘reasonable doubt’ before it is entitled to ASI cover. If that were the case, several monuments that are currently under ASI auspices would fail the test by virtue of having multiple histories . Therefore, the mere existence of a monument is enough. And in cases where the history is in dispute, the people’s faith should suffice. Ancient monuments, having gone through the rigours of time, are almost sure to have their histories obliterated and in such cases, it is all the more vital that faith and folklore are respected.

By those yardsticks, Ramar Sethu, believed to be built by Lord Rama and his parivar en route to Lanka, should have been declared a monument long back. The ASI had committed the original sin in not doing so. And it has added insult to injury by claiming in court that not just the bridge, but Lord Rama and the characters in Ramayana themselves never existed. The fact that it has since withdrawn the affidavit does not alter its intent. Now how can the ASI which is only an arm of a secular government make such a sweeping and outrageous declaration? Has the last and final layer of soil been dug out? But is the shovel the sole judge of history? First, Rama as a godhead is a matter of abiding faith for millions of Hindus over several millenia. Second, there are tell-tale evidences of the life, times and movements of Rama as a ruler and an exiled prince, littered all over this sprawling country from Ayodhya to Prayag to Dandakarunya to Rameshwaram, all of which jell perfectly with the Ramayanas written by scores of savants and scholars over centuries.From Egypt to Mecca to Jerusalem to Greece to Rome, monuments are preserved not just for their historicity but also their sentimental significance. And even in cases where history had run against popular beliefs, monuments have survived in due respect to those beliefs. But in secular India, Lord Rama needs judicial sanction and secular certification, not just to enter Ayodhya, but even to reside in devotees’ hearts! For Lord R, the exile never seems to end.

Again, all secular hell has broken loose with an Allahabad HC judge observing in a ruling that the Bhagavad Gita should be made the national dharma shastra. Naturally, imams and mullahs are agitated because they would prefer the Shariat court instead of the Supreme Court itself and so cannot surely countenance the suggested ‘dharma’ court.

But the real rub has come from the Union law minister H R Bharadwaj who has claimed post haste, and quite officially at that, that the Gita cannot be for the entire nation. One wonders what the response would have been if a judge were to quote from the Quran. Of course, the Sangh Parivar would have hit the roof while Imams would have stroked their beards in smug satisfaction. And the law minister himself, in his official capacity and in all secular zeal, would have advised the nation to take the judicial observation in the right spirit and would have even offered his own quotes from the Q! But since it is Gita it has to be communal and in any case, it, according to the learned law minister, ‘does not belong to ‘this entire nation’. So if Gita does not belong here, to where does it belong?

Officially downgraded and disowned thus the Gita too has now joined the list of unsecular objects like Saraswati Vandana and Vande mataram. This when the Gita actually says people can attain god in whatever form or mode they wish and worship. This is what the Constitution and common sense deem as real secularism. And we know what certain other Books say: If you are not here, you are doomed! At a time when such rabid injunctions have attained practical and political manifestations, a responsible Government ruling over a country with a hoary past and vast treasures of wisdom should actually be falling back on its core values and leverage on those gems. Instead we are busy dumping them. This can happen only in a nation which is morally and mortally dead!

        e-mail the writer at trjawahar@vsnl.net

http://www.newstodaynet.com/2007pb/140907.htm

‘Chakka Jam’ hits commuters in Patna

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Chakka_jam_hits…
by chetanw 1 days ago (timesofindia.indiatimes.com)

Office goers and common people had a tough time on Wednesday morning when BJP and VHP activists blocked some of the main squares here during the three-hour ‘chakka-jam’ call given by the Rameshwar Ramsetu Raksha Samiti.

The jam – which started from 8 am – was organised to protest the Union government decision to go ahead with the Setusamudram Project which, the samiti feels, would endanger the ecosystem as well as the Rameshwaram setu.

Hundreds of BJP activists led by former Union minister and senior party leader C P Thakur blocked vehicular traffic at the busy Dak-Bungalow Road intersection for some time. Protestors also jammed roads on Saguna Mor and Ashiana Nagar chowk in the city, putting life out of gear for some time.

http://www.indianpad.com/story/103456

Uma threatens fast unto death over Ram Setu affidavit
13 Sep 2007, 1455 hrs IST,PTI

BHOPAL: Bhartiya Janshakti President Uma Bharti on Thursday criticised the Centre over its affidavit on Setusamudram project in the Supreme Court and warned to go on hunger strike if it was not withdrawn.
In the affidavit, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) rejected the claim of the existence of the “Rama Setu bridge” in the area where the project was under construction.
The Centre also told the apex court there was no historical evidence to establish the existence of Lord Rama or the other characters in Ramayana.
Bharti said the government’s stand on the sea lane project was an insult to the Indian culture, pride and also Lord Rama.
She warned to launch ‘fast unto death’ at Delhi from September 18 if the affidavit was not withdrawn.
The former Madhya Pradesh CM sought an apology from the Congress over the issue and demanded immediate halt to the multi-crore project.

http://tinyurl.com/2tettn

Ram Sethu does not exist, says Lalu

New Delhi, Sept 13: RJD chief Lalu Prasad today accused the BJP of exploiting the Sethusamudram project and asserted that Ram Sethu did not exist.

“Lord Rama did exist but there is no Sethu. A lot of things happen naturally,” Prasad told reporters.

“The BJP is just making an issue out of the whole thing,” he said. (Agencies)

http://tinyurl.com/3xvhzp

http://www.outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodname=20070913&fname=ramsetu&sid=2

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6994415.stm

Politics of Ram-setu by illiterate experts

Panel discussion in TV Chanel Ajtak on 14.9.07 once again showed that there is no literate historian or archeologists in India specially after independence and they merely write whatever they are ordered by political masters who inherit the British slavery.Devotion to Marx is substitute for knowledge. Even the news reader was more literate who asked that even Alexander has not been mentioned in Indian literature. Then the govt. expert referred Megasthenege whose writing is not considered authentic even by Mac-Crindle who  had to collect the fragments from quotations of 4 Greek writers and might lack context in spite of best care. The expert was very proud to declare his illiteracy in his claim that no literature mentions Ram. Every Indian-even illiterates of all creeds knows about Ramayana which has not been heard by expert. The illiteracy of archeologists is proudly announced in all references in History-(1) Indus valley inscriptions have not been read but history is written on basis of unreadable literature and not as per readable vast sources of Veda, tantra, Puranas etc –not heard by so called historians. The opinion of those who could read the inscriptions is not seen due to fear of exposing fake histories. (2) Hathigumpha inscription at Pipili in Orissa does not even mention Kalinga war near it nor name of Buddha. None of the 24 inscription of Ashoka or any of voluminous Buddhist texts indicate that Ashok had become Buddhist after the war. At present population of 102 crores of India, our army is about 10 lakhs only, but figures of casualty and arrest of army of small Kalinga exceeds this figure. It is shown that he became Bauddha  to follow path of peace as if no body except a Bauddha can be peaceful. But the only Bauddha Text about Ashok is Ashokavadan chapter of Divyavadan which tells Ashoka as good bauddha because he killed 1200 jain munis in celebration of his victory.(3) Similarly, all the 4 lines of Prachi inscription of Kharavel have been reversed in history books. He tells that he repaired Prachi canal in 5th year of his rule when ‘Tri-vasu-shata’ (=803) years had passed after coronation of Nanda. Though he starts with reference of Nanda, he has been touted as freedom fighter against Nanda, as if Nanda was a foreigner. Vasu=8, was not understood by any historian, it was changed to varsha=year and two groups of illiterates took the value as 300 and 103 years. Second line tells that he was of Chedi clan in south west Orissa, but he has been described of Gauda in north east. After 11years of his rule, he performed Rajsuya-yajna, but he has been described as Jaina, though Pushyamitra Shunga is blamed (or credited) with reviving Brahmanism because he had done much smaller Ashvamedha-yajna. Kharavel had assumed titles meaning Indra as lord of east. Indra is abused in Jain texts. It confirms that Indra was lord of east, but Aryans under chief god Indra are described to have come from west. What is the purpose of such archeology when each minute detail is to be deliberately written false and opposite ?

     Similarly devotees of Megasthenese have not read even a single line of that book. Megasthenese has given 15 references and distances of Palibothri (Paribhadra =Dehali=boundary wall, walled city or cantonment). Palibothri is on bank of Yamuna, which  passes through Mathura, Prayaga, Sone-river confluence and meeting of Ganga with sea. Patna has not even been mentioned. Distance of all these have been given in addition to Haridwar, Pushkar, Naish (Nyse in Persia), Peshawar etc. Any middle school student can understand that it is Delhi. He has also mentioned Pillar-of Hercules (Kutub-Minar) at Delhi which was re-iterated by Ibn-batuta in 14th century that it was about 1500 years before Kutubuddin. Due to that reason, entire manuscript of the diary was burnt by Prof Irfan Habib of Indian Institute of Historical Research who had taken grant of Rs. 10 lakhs in his name for its translation which had been done by another person. Only the earlier synopsis given by real translator was available which could be published by National Book Trust in Hindi and English. Rs. 10 lakh has not been recovered from Habib as recommended by AG audit as published in Indian Express.

        No archeology anywhere in the world has shown age of copper and then of iron. The 4 yugas of Satya, dvapar, treta, kali have been translated in Greek as eras of gold, silver, copper, iron as per their concept. Any school student knows that metallurgy of copper is more difficult than iron, but historians require special illiteracy. Iron ore is on surface as murum (mura=iron), but copper is deep underground. Even with best technology now, it is not possible to locate all locations of minerals of copper, tin etc. How primitive illiterates could have located this? The greatest Russian Astronomer Ambersaumyan (in Sanskrit it means astronomer) had stated (quoted in ‘The Earth’-by M. Byalko-Mir Publishers, Moscow) that it is fashion to under-estimate achievements of ancients. 7000 year ago, Mexicans knew how to calculate solar eclipse which can be done by less than 200 astronomers in present age. Most professors of Physics, Math or Astronomy will not even understand the method. In every place on earth since ancient times, solar eclipse was an occasion for austerity. This can not be done unless time and place are calculated before hand. In addition, in my books-Sankhya-Siddhanta (Hndi, by Nag Publishers, Delhi-6, in 200) and Vedic View of Sri Jagannatha (Rashtriya sanskrit Vidyapeetha, Tirupati, 2006) I have given numerous examples that sizes of solar system, galaxy, and bigger structures have been accurately described in 6 different units of length. Till today, size of solar system has not been defined, let alone measuring it. There are many misnomers-even in case of a person dying today, it is not possible to determine cause of death in 80% cases. It is not possible to say whether he was jain, bauddha, hindu or Christian, real identity is unthinkable. But archeologists are claiming to prove identity of persons dead 10000 years ago and claim that Ram did not exist. Civilization starts at a place where there is timely rainfall and good soil. But articles are preserved at places of opposite quality-desert without rainfall, shifting land mass which will bury it. Thus the places of later extensions are considered origins of civilization, like Thar desert.

    Coming to the current topic, Ram-setu came to highlight by satellite pictures of NASA which indicated man-made masonary structures which are not possible without human design. These photographs were released with wide publicity. When this supported History of Ramayan, Oxford lobby was worried where declared aim of Boden chair in 1831 was to destroy vedic culture and establish Christianity. Then NASA was ordered to reverse its conclusion-a mockery of scientific research. Now they are telling that it is not man made. Then what happened to the pictures released by it earlier ?

    Coming to literature, the largest literature in India is about Ram and Krishna. That is followed by Vikramaditya, Paramar king of Ujjain in 82 BC to 19 AD. On basis of his calendar, all festivals in India are still observed, though affidavit of even the current govt. has to be withdrawn because it is fake science and varies as per order of masters. Other Important eras are of Parshurama (6177 BC-Kalamba or Kollam era in Kerala) when 120 years of 21 democracies ended as stated by Megasthenese. Then there was democracy for 300 hundred years from 756 BC (Shudraka era) to 456 BC (Sriharsha era when Kutub-Minar was erected). Before that, Yudhishthira coronation was on 17-12-3139 BC, Chahmana of Delhi vanquished Nineve in 612 BC (in Babylon history, era in Brihat-samhita 13/3), Shalivahana shaka in 78 AD. All these great kings whose systems are still current, have been declared non-existent. The kings having negligible references are described as greats with falsifications as shown above.

    Era of Rama from 11-2-4433 BC to 22-3-4365 BC has been described in minutest detail which is un-comparable with any history written any where in world. So Ramayana of Valmiki has been called first poetry and a book of history. Details of 89 incidents have been given. Era of Ram can be calculated and verified by 6 different methods-(1) 24th part of Treta. These parts are parivarta of 360 years each as per vayu Purana. The 4 yugas are in cycles of 12000 years of ascending and descending order (avasarpini and utsarpini) as explained in my two books.(2) Prabhava year of both Guru years (Pitamaha and saura) started with birth of Rama in 4433 BC and of Matsya 5100 years ago in 9533 BC which is correct estimate of geological floods. (3) Planetary positions of Rama birth matches for this date. (4) It also matches with the records of generations in puranas. (5) Saptarshi and Krauncha (or Dhruva) eras also match as per the chart. (6) Tithi, vara, nakshatra given in Ramayana matches this date.

 All the 89 dates are verifiable by 5 indicators of date in Indian panchanga. These have been detailed in a long article by me (32 pages A4 size, Sree-lipi) with quotations which can be given to any person who has some knowledge of calenderic astronomy. Historians of India have vowed to remain illiterate and never to hear words like panchanga, shaka, samvatsara (these words can not be found in 12 volume treatise by Bhartiya vidya bhawan, or by Oxford or Cambridge histories).

      The causeway called Rama-setu was built from 13 to 17.1.4395 BC as per Ramayana.

One long term astronomical incident also is given which can be repeated only after more than 10000 years. It is stated in texts of astrology that when the cart(Shakata) of Rohini star is crossed by mars or Saturn, there is war and bloodshed. On the day when Hanuman had met Sita in Ashoka-vatika,Saturn and mars both had crossed Rohini-cart.  Rohini is the 4th of 27 stars covering 3600 . All planets enter the star once in their revolution-mars is about 20 months and Saturn in 30 years. But the actual shape of star is slightly away from central line of zodiac. Orbits of Saturn and mars are inclined to zodiac by less than 20 . Thus only when they are at highest point of obit in latitude, they can enter the cart. Event for Saturn mars both is rare. So the most violent incident-burning of Lanka had occurred then.

Source: email from Arun Kumar Upadhyay

PROTEST DEMONSTRATION AGAINST SONIA GANDHI –

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 2ND AT U.N. (FIRST AVENUE AND 47TH STREET)- FROM 12:00 TO 02:00 PM

DEAR HINDU COLLEAGUES:

Mahatma Gandhi International Foundation, Indian American Intellectuals Forum, Indo Caribbean Council, Kashmiri Taskforce & Foundation of Nepalis in America and others have joined hands to protest against Sonia (Antonio Maino) Gandhi, President,  Congress Party of India and UPA Chairman, Tuesday, October 2nd in front of the United Nations at First Avenue and 47th Street.

Our request for protest has been approved by Parks and Recreation Department.  Now we are waiting for Police clearance.  We have been informed that it is just a formality. But we have to wait.

While we commend the declaration of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday as “International Non- Violence Day” at India’s request  we highly condemn the usurpation of this historic moment by an unqualified politician whose policies, program and conduct are the antithesis of what Mahatma Gandhi stood for.  We firmly believe that this strategy is motivated  by a devious and underhanded desire to gain international legitimacy and political control in Indian governance, using the name of a world revered Indian icon  Mahatma Gandhi.  In fact, Sonia Gandhi has no relationship either by blood or by ideals with the revered Father of the Nation of India.

People who do not know, here in the West, will tend to assume that Sonia Gandhi is a relative of Mahatma Gandhi, because of the identity of the last name.  This is the deceitful intent of Sonia Gandhi and the Congress Party.  To permit this would be a travesty in the name of Mahatma Gandhi.

We, therefore, request all our friends to make arrangements to take a day off on October 2nd.  Please  participate wholeheartedly in this Yagna, along with friends  for the sake of India/Bharatvarsha, our Mathru-bhoomi and Punya-bhoomi.

In this connection, you can refer to  our website:  http://Gandhiherita ge.org.

For further information, please do not hesitate to contact the undersigned at any time:

Narain Kataria

(718) 478-5735

Arish K. Sahani

(718) 271-0453

Sunanda Thali

732-403-7460

Prasad

(630) 885-3180

Umesh

(908) 240-7720

Naresh Sharma

(609) 226-9702

Durga Prasad

(480) 544-3258

And others on website

Narain Kataria

Sethusamudram (Ram Sethu) not Man Made ?

Govt. of India Views in Support of SSCP

The affidavit filed in Sethusamudram case by Govt.of India, in the Supreme Court, asserting that Valmiki Ramayana lacks scientific and historical veracity, to incontrovertibly prove the existence of the characters or the occurrences of the events depicted therein, gives an impression that the affidavit has been drafted by Vatican. What is behind the affidavit venturing into an opinion on the epic Ramayana itself, instead of limiting itself to the issue of just Ram Sethu?

The Affidavit asserted that a mere reference made to the formation, called Ram Sethu or Adam’s Bridge, in the records and maps of medieval and pre-independence India, cannot conclusively prove the fact that the formation (Ram Sethu) is actually a man-made structure. The findings/conclusions must be based on tangible material evidence of the study carried out in a scientific manner, using available technological aids.

The Article 51-A(h),regarding Fundamental Duties-To develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform- is being quoted by the proponents of SSCP, to rubbish Ramayana & destroy Ram Sethu.

The other opinion is that Ram Sethu (Adam’s Bridge) was not a man-made structure and that it is actually composed of a series of islands and shoals, by natural sedimentation process created by ocean currents. It is also argued that the formation was not more than 1,25,000 years old and not 17,50,000 years as claimed on the basis of Ramayana.

Counter Points

Scientific Approach

With the limitatations of the scientific knowledge of the mankind and the available technological aids, to know all about the universe and its creation, how can one ignore or call unscientific, the existence of characters and occurrences of the events depicted in Valmiki Ramayana, which is acknowledged as an important part of ancient Indian literature? What is the basis to say it is not a Historical Record?

Why does not Govt. of India apply the same yardstick of tangible material evidence of scientific studies and scientific temper to all Faiths? How about various practices and preaching taking place in the name of religion in the developed countries? Are they supported by tangible material evidence of the scientific study?

-2-

Fundamental Duty

While talking about development of scientific temper, one should not forget about the Fundamental Duty -Article 51-A (g) –To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures !

Object of Historic Interest and National Importance

Conceding that Ram Sethu is not a man-made structure and it is actually composed of a series of islands and shoals, by natural sedimentation process created by ocean currents and the formation was not more than 1,25,000 years old, but not acceding, does it not deserve to be declared and notified, in accordance with Article 49, which stipulates that it shall be the obligation of the State to protect place or object of historic interest and of national importance, from spoliation, disfigurement, destruction, etc ?

Should we destroy Ram Sethu, just because it is not man-made? Why don’t we learn from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, which is the world’s single largest coral domain, built by living organisms . The Great Barrier Reef by acting as a buffer against heavy seas, the reef-and-island complex makes possible neighboring sea grass beds and coastal mangrove forests.

Environmental Issues

The Ram Sethu (Adam’s Bridge) is a major marine divide, separating the furious Bay of Bengal sea and sediments in the Palk Bay and the very calm placid waters of the Gulf of Mannar. Any disfigurement of Ram Sethu is bound disturb Marine Biosphere, National Parks, Marine Wealth and Life in Gulf of Mannar, adversely affecting the livelihood of thousands of families who depend on the marine and coastal resources of the area.

It is also acting as a barrier, protecting the coastline south of Rameswaram and the Kerala coast from the impact of Tsunami, apart from preventing sedimentation of Gulf of Mannar, which do not seem to have been considered while according Environmental Clearance to SSCP.

Is SSCP Required?

While preparing any EIA Report, the first question to be asked is “do we require this project, are there alternatives to provide the same benefits, avoiding the associated environmental and socio- economic impacts of the project ?

-3-

The main object of the project is to cut down the time of voyage and the operating costs of the ships going round Ceylon by providing an alternative from west coast to east cost of India. Taking into account the time taken to pilot the vessel thro about 50Km Channel and the piloting charges, the shipping companies may not find it attractive to use the channel.

Moreover because of the limitation on the capacity of the ships (36,000 tons) that can pass thro the Channel, most of the ships, which are Bulk Carriers, will not be able to use the channel. In other words, the channel may not be utilized by international shipping and it may be restricted to coastal shipping between east and west coasts.

The SSCP, taking into account the costs of debt servicing and annual maintenance dredging and the limited use of the channel, will prove to be a financial disaster, apart from being environmental and ecological disaster, with associated adverse socio-economic impacts.

The limited coastal shipping requirements between east and west coasts can be met by laying Pipelines for liquid and gaseous commodities and opting for energy efficient and dedicated fast track railway lines, which will prove to be cost effective and energy efficient.

If so, for whom and what purpose Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project is required?

Precautionary Principle

The guiding philosophy of universally accepted “Precautionary Principle” is “When an activity raises threats of harm to Environment, Human Health, precautionary measures should be taken, even if some cause and effect relationship is not established scientifically”

Why is SSCP not being abandoned, even when we know very well the cause and effect of disfigurement of Ram Sethu? Even if there is a slightest doubt about the threats of the project, it should be abandoned under precautionary principle.

Conclusion

Hurting sentiments of hundreds of Crores of People, the world over, by saying Ramayana has no Scientific or Historical basis, and concluding that Ram Sethu is not man-made, shows utter disregard and insensitiveness of the government to the sentiments of the people. Hurting the sentiments of Crores of people may prove to be disastrous, which is a lesson to be learnt from history.

Capt.J.Rama Rao.I.N.(Retd) Sept. 13, 2007. Copy of note sent to Smt. Sonia Gandhi

Title: Advani slams UPA for disputing Ram’s historicity
Author: Yogesh Vajpeyi
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: September 13, 2007
http://www.dailypioneer.com/indexn12.asp?main_variable=front%5Fpage&file_name=story2%2Etxt&counter_img=2
(The historicity of Jesus was discussed at length by many western philosophers and long and short of it was they thought that if the historicity is held valid, the image of Jesus will be damaged.  Hence, it has since been conceded that the present Jesus worshipped by all Christians is Jesus of FAITH. But the proofs of existence of Ram and the validity of Ramayan are deeply rooted in our culture that too in all parts of the country and even beyond since thousands of years. And who can issue a certificate of historicity when there is no research done? And yet the places where the events, which took place, described in Ramayan are all accurately pointed out. It is now recently only when excavations and underwater research was done Dr S. R. Rao and others, solid and concrete evidence of a prosperous Dwaraka constructed under water by Krishna have come forth. Till an exhaustive research is done and convincing scientific proof are produced, nobody has the right of doubting the existence of Ram and Ramayan. It is also not possible to survive for any fable for ages without any truth like Ram and Ramayan has continued.)
Advani slams UPA for disputing Ram’s historicity
Yogesh Vajpeyi | New Delhi
Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha LK Advani on Tuesday rang up Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to register a strong protest against the Centre’s affidavit in the Supreme Court disputing the historicity of the Ram legend.
Sources said Prime Minister’s Media Adviser Sanjay Baru came on the line when Advani rang up Manmohan Singh and the BJP veteran told him that the principal Opposition party considered the content of the Central Government’s affidavit, filed on Tuesday in connection with an ongoing hearing on Setu Samudram Project, “highly objectionable and uncalled for”.

Advani is reported to have drawn the PMO’s attention to the fact that the Union Government had gone out of the way to hurt the sentiments of crores of Hindus and denigrated their faith.
He is understood to have pointed out that the Government had disputed the historicity of the characters and events figuring in Valmiki’s Ramayan and Tulsidas’s Ram Charit Manas, even as it admitted that the Archeological Survey of India had not conducted any enquiry into the existence of the Ram Setu.
The move gave a clear indication that the principal opposition party intends to make the Government’s deliberate campaign to hurt the sentiments of the majority community a big issue and target the Congress for its unabashed pursuit of vote bank politics.
As BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad was quick to observe the affidavit had been filed by the Union Government’s Ministry of Culture, which was under senior Congress leader Ambika Soni.
“So far, we thought opposition to Ram Setu was primarily from the Union Minister for Surface Transport and Shipping TR Balu, who represents the DMK in the ruling alliance,” he said.
Interestingly, Balu’s Ministry had already filed an affidavit in the apex court in connection with the same case on Monday.
But that affidavit confined itself to stating that there was no scientific evidence proving that Ram Setu was a man-made bridge.
The latest affidavit filed by a Ministry under the charge of Congress leader Ambika Soni went beyond this and challenged the historicity of the characters and events in the entire gamut of the Ram pantheon itself.

Hindu organisations protest on Ram Setu issue

Print

E-mail

VERINDER SAREEN   

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

NAWANSHEHAR:  Activists of the different Hindu organisations of the town including those of Vishav Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal under the banner of Ram Setu Raksha Manch here Wednesday blocked traffic for over an hour at Chandigarh Chowk.

The protest was held against the move to demolish Ram Setu bridge said to be built during the war between Lord Rama and Ravana by the “Vanar Sena” of Lord Hanuman in Rameshwaram from Danushkodi to Mannar in Sri Lanka.

Last evening the activists at a meeting here expressed strong resentment over the reported submission in the court of the central government that no war ever took place at Ram Setu. “This has hurt the religious sentiments and the Astha of the Hindus very badly,” said Varinder Ummat, the Co-convener of the Manch. He maintained that apart from having religious connotations, the Ram Setu was a vast store-house of Thorium capable of meeting the country’s energy requirements for over hundred years..

Members of the Valmiki community also participated in the blockade. The leaders of the community assured full support to the agitation on the issue. Later, the agitators went to the office of the DC and presented a memorandum of their demands to the district administration for onward submission to the President. A couple of Sadhus from the area also participated in the agitation and sat on dharna at the chowk

PATIALA: Members of various Hindu outfits held a protest, in Rajpura in this district, here Wednesday by blocking the rail and the road traffic for at least an hour to voice their concerns against the move to destroy Ram Setu or the Adam’s bridge that connects Rameshwaram to Sri Lanka’s Talaimannar, to complete the Sethu Samudram Project.

The protest was led by Sir Rameshwaram Ram Setu Raksha Manch in which a large number of activist representing various outfits participated. The protestors blocked the railway traffic near the local railway station and raised slogans in support of their claims. Later, they also blocked the traffic on the national highway no.1.

http://www.punjabnewsline.com/content/view/5642/38/

‘Ram Sethu’ strike hits life

Jammu, Sep 12 : Normal life was thrown out of gear till 1100 hrs in Jammu city in support of country-wide ”chaka jam” call of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad as a mark of protest against the Centre’s move to ”damage the heritage bridge” in Tamil Nadu.
Public transport remained off the road and markets remained closed in support of the bandh, which remained in force for more than three hours. Meanwhile, commuters faced hard times reaching their destinations due to road blockades created at various places by the protesters.
However, there was no report of any untoward incident from any part of the region as adequate security measures were adopted by the authorities, police said.
Besides the Ram Setu Raksha Manch, many political and non-political bodies in Jammu and Kashmir had supported the call for a peaceful ”chakka jam” here to impress upon the Centre to spare the ‘Ram Sethu’.
”UPA government’s move to demolish Ram Sethu, is a matter of faith for crores of Hindus throughout the world and the decision has hurt the sentiments of the community,” said Tarni Taran, a Raksha Manch leader.
Several Saffron organisations have alleged that the decision to demolish Ram Sethu had been taken by the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on the behest of the Vatican Pope to erode the ancient Indian culture.
Various Hindu groups have called on the government to stop the Setusamundram project, stressing that it will demolish a bridge linking India and Sri Lanka, believed to have been built by Lord Rama.

— UNI

http://www.newkerala.com/july.php?action=fullnews&id=59482

Hindu leaders slam Govt on Ram Setu issue

Posted at Wednesday, 12 September 2007 21:09 IST

Lucknow, Sep 12: The leaders of Brahmin community today slammed the Centre Government for claiming that the Ram Setu is not a man-made structure.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) said Ramcharitmanas by Tulsidas cannot be read as historical record to “prove the existence of characters or the occurrence of the events” depicted in it.
ASI filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court today stating there was no historical and scientific evidence to establish the existence of Lord Ram or the other characters in Ramayana.
The BJP and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) promptly reacted angrily to the ASI affidavit, which was in response to three petitions that got transferred from Madras high court to Supreme Court challenging government’s decision to construct the Sethusamudram Canal by dredging a portion of the Setu.
The state president of All India Brahmin Maha Samaj, Dr. Rajesh Dixit said, “It is a crude attempt to insult Hindu sentiments.”
Dr. Ramakant Pandey, ex president of Sampurnanand Sanskrit University, said that the government is behind the conspiracy to denigrate the Hindu beliefs and facts. The PM must explain the move to question the existence of Ramayana.
Piyush Kant Mishra, Deepak Joyti Tripathi, Ram Kumar Tripathi, Avdhesh Tripathi and Sanjay Tripathi were among prominent leaders who staged strong protest against the ASI’s statement in the apex court.

http://www.saharasamay.com/samayhtml/articles.aspx?newsid=84527

Ram Setu: BJP accuses govt of blasphemy
13 Sep 2007, 0103 hrs IST,TNN
SMS NEWS to 58888 for latest updates

New Delhi: Opposition BJP blasted the Congress-led UPA government on Wednesday, accusing it of “blasphemy” for telling the Supreme Court that there was no historical evidence to establish the existence of Lord Rama or the other characters in Ramayana.
Taking up its Hindutva mantle, the party came out sharply against the government for hurting Hindu sentiments on the issue and Leader of Opposition L K Advani communicated to PMO that the affidavit was damaging.
The issue has acquired potency at a time when the BJP has slid into poll mode and is looking for issues. The Ram Setu issue meshes well with its Hindutva plank and can be used to accuse Congress of practising appeasement politics. Coming at a time when a debate is raging on the Sachar panel report, the party would be only too happy to grab the “insult” to Hinduism to argue its case against differential treatment for communities by the Congress government.
BJP has been protesting against the destruction of Adam’s bridge aka Ram Setu for the Sethusamudram project. It has, however, claimed that that it was not against the project itself, but was asking for a realignment of the construction so that there was no damage to Ram Setu. Attacking the government, party spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad asked for an explanation from the PM and asked whether a similar stand would have been taken in case of an icon of some other faith.
He condemned the government for its affidavit over Lord Rama and the Ramayana as a “classic example of politics of appeasement”. “It’s an insult to our cultural heritage and Hindu sentiments,” he added.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Ram_Setu_BJP_accuses_govt_of_blasphemy/articleshow/2363601.cms

Ram affidavit could invite legal action, says Advani
15 Sep 2007, 0135 hrs IST,TNN
SMS NEWS to 58888 for latest updates

NEW DELHI: Sharpening his attack on the Manmohan Singh government over the Ram Setu issue, leader of Opposition and BJP leader L K Advani said the Centre’s “Ram-did-not-exist” affidavit could be punishable under various sections of the criminal law which provides for prison terms of up to three years for acts intended to outrage religious feelings.
Whether an affidavit submitted to the SC could be the ground for a criminal case or legal proceedings was a point in law which needed to be settled, Advani told TOI. But, it was clear that the government’s submission, while defending the Sethusamudram project, was an affront to the beliefs of a vast majority of Indians.
“There can be no doubt that the affidavit filed by the government of India in the Supreme Court two days back is an act of blasphemy, which insults the religious beliefs of one billion people and so is punishable under Indian law,” he said. “This is not just a simple mistake, but a penal offence,” the BJP leader said.
Advani said that Section 295 (a) of the Indian Penal Code deals with acts “intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs”, which are punishable with three years of imprisonment.
The Centre’s affidavit, which said that there was no historical evidence to prove “existence of the characters or occurrence of events” in ‘Ramayana’, had poured contempt on the faith of a billion people.
Expanding on his theme that the Centre’s stand had not been a casual instance, Advani referred to reports that the Archaeological Survey of India had strong reservations over the contents of the affidavit. The BJP leader pointed out that reports had underlined that the Centre’s counsel had, in fact, insisted that the offending paragraphs were essential to the argument in favour of dredging Adam’s Bridge or Ram Setu.
This, said Advani, reflected the mindset of the government and Congress. “There is a view that the sentiments of the majority community can be trampled upon with impunity,” he said. He argued that the sensibilities of the people cannot be lost sight of and the denial of the existence of Lord Ram was a good example of the thoughtless and uncaring attitude of the government to what is an article of faith for so many.
The developments in the Ram Setu case had highlighted two shortcomings of the government. “Ministerial accountability which is the hallmark of the parliamentary system is totally absent and the office of the chief executive, namely that of the Prime Minister, has been completely devalued,” he said, reiterating BJP’s persistent criticism of Manmohan Singh.
There are, in the UPA set-up, two major power centres which wield greater authority that even the PM. “These are not at all accountable either to Parliament or to the people. These are the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Left parties led by CPM,” Advani said. “This is the root of the series of blunders being committed by this government, this affidavit being the latest example,” he pointed out.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/Ram_affidavit_could_invite_legal_action_says_Advani/articleshow/2370683.cms

Ram Setu stir hits commuters
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 12
Commuters and office goers in the National Capital Territory of Delhi had a harrowing time reaching their destinations today because of the “Rasta Roko” agitation by the volunteers of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as part of their nationwide protest against the government’s decision to go ahead with the Sethusamudram project.

The activists began their blockade at around 8 am which is the beginning of the rush hour.

As a result, traffic in most parts of the Capital came to a virtual halt. Some of the worst affected areas were Nizamuddin Bridge, ITO, Yamuna Bridge, Akshardham Temple, Vikas Marg, Connaught Place, Dwarka flyover, Lajpat Nagar, South Extension and along National Highway 8. The smooth flow of traffic was also affected in Khajoori and Bhajanpura.

It took the traffic police several hours to restore normalcy. A number of activists, including some local leaders of VHP and BJP, were also taken into custody for causing obstruction to public servants on duty.

VHP leaders claimed that the Sethusamudram project would destroy the mythical ‘Ram Setu’ linking India and Sri Lanka. 

Ramdev decries govt stance
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 12
Opposing the Sethusamudram project in its present form, yoga exponent Swami Ramdev today criticised the affidavit filed by the ASI in the Supreme Court on the controversial issue, saying that it had hurt feelings of crores of people by raising questions on the existence of the characters of Ramayana.

The yoga guru, who has returned after a 77-day visit to the US, the UK and some African countries, said he was surprised and pained at the stance of the government. “Such a position raises questions on independence of thought of the government. It seems to be affected by the doctrine propagated by foreign rulers to negate existence of India’s cultural icons,” he said.

Terming the ASI stance as “shameful,” he said even if the authorities did not want to treat Adam’s Bridge as Ram Setu, they should not touch it for reasons of ecology and preservation of nature.

Swami Ramdev also took exception to the ban on yoga classes by two churhes in the UK, saying that the ancient Indian tradition was beneficial to the human body. “Calling yoga classes un-Christian is not an intelligent remark,” he said, adding, that “a book of Bible” describes yoga as beneficial to the body.

On a court observation that the Bhagwad Gita should be recognised as Rashtriya Dharam Shastra, he said the Gita was a philosophy of life and provided answers to many unresolved questions. It talks about human values, he said.

The Swami, who was honoured by the assembly and Senate at New Jersey, said that India’s GDP can be raised from nine per cent to 15 per cent if people were made self-dependent in matters of health.

“Nearly five lakh crore rupees that the government spends on health can be used to improve education and civic amenities and boost industry,” he said.

Claiming that MNCs continue to make large volumes of money, he said there was need to make people aware against any exploitation.

He cited reports to say that Britishers had taken out of country wealth of over 250 lakh crore rupees.

The yoga guru, who called on President Pratibha Patil today, presented her “a symbol of Indian culture” on behalf of the Patanjali Yogpeeth.

Swami Ramdev has been invited to teach Yoga to the Parliamentarians in South Africa. He will leave for Nepal on September 21 and later visit Japan where he will hold discussions with some research institutions.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2007/20070913/delhi.htm

Ambika Soni offers to resign

NDTV Correspondent

Saturday, September 15, 2007 (New Delhi)

Under fire from her own colleagues over the Sethusamudram affidavit blunder Culture Minister Ambika Soni has said she will resign if the Prime Minister or Sonia Gandhi want her to do so.
This is after Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh said he would have resigned if he had been in her place.
But at the same time the minister held the Additional Solicitor General responsible for the final affidavit that said there is no historical proof of Lord Ram’s existence.
Meanwhile, two officials of the Archaeological Survey of India have been suspended for not making the changes, she had suggested in the draft.
And with Soni ordering a probe into the blunder more heads are likely to roll.
Ambika Soni had earlier met Sonia Gandhi to explain what went wrong.
On Friday, the government withdrew its affidavits and told the Supreme Court it would like to review the Sethusamudram project so that the Ram Setu will not be disturbed.

http://tinyurl.com/ywz2ho

Debate shifted over Ram from Ram Sethu

By  NI Wire

Views:64

New Delhi

Comments:0

Sep 15: The UPA government at the centre has withdrawn its affidavits in Supreme Court on Sethusamudram Project .Centre has asked three months time for filing another affidavit.

The Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project proposes dredging of Adam Bridge to reduce the distance between east and west coast. Conceived in 1860 by Alfred Dundas Taylor, it was revived during NDA regime and again after several reports UPA finally announced the inauguration of this project.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balkrishnan, said that the August 31 interim order putting on hold the construction in Rama Setu area will continue.

The Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium said that UPA would examine the entire project afresh, keeping in mind alternative suggestion in three month time.

“I have taken instructions from the Government at the highest level,” Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam told the Bench which included Justice R V Raveendran.

Congress is facing lot of opposition from its supporters for back-tracking, the DMK supremo Karunanidhi said,“We care more for self respect than for the government” and categorically stated that the Centre’s decision to eliminate crucial aspects of the affidavit that questioned the existence of Lord Rama could not be accepted.

Karunanidhi added, “ we were brought up in the ways of Periyar and his principles of self respect”, and quoted former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru as saying, “Lord Rama was only a fictional character in a dramatized Aryan- Dravidian struggle.”

Two ASI official Bakshi and Chandrashekhar were suspended following the enquiry conducted by ASI Director-General A. Vaish, One of the officer was at Director Level dealing with the matter on behalf of central government, while other was responsible for amending the final draft of the affidavit.

An enquiry was ordered and approved by the secretary of the Union Culture Ministry Ambika Soni.

Sonia Gandi intervened to stop the further damage due to the affidavit, which said that there is no historical evidence to support that Ram existed.

The decision came when Oppossition condemned Congress and asked for apology for disputing Ram’s historicity.

Debate over Ram Sethu: Natural or Man made?

The survey conducted by Geological survey of India said the Sethu was a natural one, some studies claimed that carbon dating roughly matches the Epic of Ramayana and the formation of bridge and it is a result of long shore drifting current.

NASA too has clarified that it is a natural formation, earlier some website came out with the claim that NASA has supported with the studies that it is man made.

While Dr. Badrinarayanan former director of Geological Survey of India said that it is not a natural formation and said, “Such a natural formation is impossible. Unless somebody has transported them and dumped them there, those reefs could not have come there. Some boulders were so light that they could float on water.”

Environmental organizations and NGO’s such as MANITHAM India, Eco Law, EFL, Green Peace movement are have taken the initiatives to know the impacts of the Sethusamudram canal projects.

It was appealed to UN secretary by Manitham in 2005 “…the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project (SSCP), will undoubtedly change the face of the earth in two countries and might exacerbate the possibility of sudden natural disasters such as Tsunamis, Tidal waves or Cyclones.

“We Manitham working for promoting human rights and protecting environment, feel that this is a mega project and want to ascertain whether in constructing the canal there would be any geological, oceanographic and environmental changes, as well as any land subsidence. Therefore, we decided to fully explore independently, the environmental impact due to SSCP”.

Asian Development Bank had urged to preserve the legendary Ram Sethu as it acted as barrier during tsunami.

Many environmentalists says that dredging of the canal may bring natural disaster, tidal waves, and cyclone also that where this dredged material will be disposed of.

There may be other side effects such as rise in temperature and marine pollution.

http://www.newstrackindia.com/newsdetails/896

Rama as Harry Potter, Valmiki as JK Rowling
Saturday September 15 2007 02:19 IST

S Gurumurthy

It was a drama that lasted less than 48 hours. On Tuesday (9/11/07) Sri Rama, who existed in the hearts of millions and millions of faithfuls for thousands of years, ceased to exist, and became a myth for the UPA government. Like a stone thrown at a beehive this set off a reaction that made the government on the run for cover on Wednesday. On Thursday, the secular government quickly turned round and admitted that Rama was real after all.
See the sequence to this somersault. On 9/11, the UPA Government told the Supreme Court on oath that Sri Rama was just a myth and the Ramayana, no more than fable. Besides trashing Rama, the government had also dismissed Sita, Lakshmana, Hanuman and others as just ‘characters’ in the play, Ramayana.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) told us so, swore the government. Left historians welcomed the government stand as objective. What is the logic that made Rama a myth? That was the logic of stones and bones. The ASI needs stones to read history and historians need, in addition, bones to understand it. Neither does any stone left by Rama, nor does any bone of Rama, exist. So, they ask, how could Rama have existed ever without the bone-stone testimony. Humans do not matter to ASI. And historians cannot accept that humans are as objective as bones and stones are. So oral traditions of humans are no evidence to either of them.
On this bone-stone objective test, Valmiki and Tulsidas, the government told the Supreme Court, are all like Joanne K Rowling. And Rama, just another Harry Potter, the character Rowling has created.
Reports say that the government had filed over 400 pages of records to assert this. But why did the government try to make a Harry Potter out of Rama who resides in the heart of crores and crores? The case in the Supreme Court was no issue of inheritance from any of those ‘characters’, as the affidavit would describe Rama and others in the Ramayana, claimed by their heirs of today. It was an issue of heritage of Rama and Ramayana claimed by Hindu faithfuls – the heritage of Rama Setu – the bridge, they believe, was built by Rama’s army of monkeys to cross the seas to Sri Lanka to take on Ravana. But, DMK, a critical UPA partner, is hell-bent on cutting the Rama Setu to build the Setu-Samudram Canal to create a shipway between Sri Lanka and India. The Ramayana, whether written by Valmiki in Sanskrit or by Tulsidas in Hindi or by Kamban in Tamil, testifies that Rama’s engineer, Neelan, built the bridge. So the faithfuls who oppose to the Setu-Samudram canal that cuts Rama’s bridge, rely on Valmiki’s testimony. They contend that if Ramayana were true, then Rama Setu ought to be true. Consequently, they want the Rama Setu protected, not destroyed. They took the case to court.
It is in the court that the government decided to establish once and for all that the Rama Setu was no monument. To prove that it decided short cut. If Sri Rama was a myth, Rama Setu was too would be as much a myth. That is why, on Tuesday, the government declared Sri Rama as non-est.
Unfortunately, the government’s affidavit on Rama as a myth coincided with the pre-fixed VHP agitation on the streets all over the country against the destruction of Rama Setu. So the issue was already on the streets when the government filed the explosive affidavit. With the media disclosing the affidavit, there was spontaneous uproar from the people. Millions set upon the government. The rediff.com which had put out the news of the affidavit had opened its website for comments from surfers. In less than 24 hours, over 2800 surfers responded, with a vast majority them against the government.
Apart from the BJP leaders, Prakash Singh Badal and Jayalalithaa, from the non-Saffron ranks, also demanded apology from the government. Why, even Laloo Yadav and AB Bardhan condemned the affidavit filed by the government. The BJP, as was to be expected, went on a war mode and demanded the withdrawal of the affidavit, and apology from Sonia and Manmohan Singh, and in addition, the concerned Minister’s sack.
This forced the government to began the disowning game. The Prime Minister told LK Advani that he was not aware of anything about the affidavit. This should be taken as true as he is unaware of most things in the government. The Home Minister repeated the same thing. And so did even the Law Minister! In hours, the affidavit saying Rama was a myth stood orphaned. But then how to calm down the tsunami of public reaction? There entered Sonia Gandhi – an expert on Rama and Ramayana and also archaeology and history ? – who, the story goes, directly called the Additional Solicitor General, Gopal Subramaniam and disapproved the affidavit declaring Rama as never having existed. Gopal Subramaniam reported it to the Law Minister. The Law Minister then held a press conference and announced “Rama is Rama; he exists like Ganga and Himalaya”.
So all experts and their opinions and of the legal pundits were overruled. Sonia did not even have to use even her pen to do it. The UPA rules for ruling India are self evident. When the government does unpopular things, whether it is petrol price hike or affidavit on Rama, poor Manmohan Singh and Company will take the hit. But whenever it does anything popular, like petrol price cut or employment guarantee announcement, or the withdrawal of the affidavit on Rama, Sonia will take the credit. Now she gets the credit for restoring Rama to history from mythology.
Any way, it is new experience for Rama. He was exiled by his father Dasaratha under the pressure of Rama’s aunt, Kaikeyi, for years. But, now, when Rama is declared as non-est by Ambika Soni, Sonia overruled her and recovered Rama in just two days. So Kaikeyi’s wrong to Rama has been atoned by Sonia, thousands of years later.
Post Script: The experts, who could alone testify on whether Rama Setu is man-made or natural formation, are the geologists and oceanographers. Not archaeologists or historians. But their view was totally kept out. Why? Simple. Some of them had already expressed that Rama Setu could not be a natural formation, meaning that it could be man-made – that is, it could be monkey-made. If the government had heard them, the results are obvious. There would be no Setu-Samudram canal; no contract for Rs 2428 crores and no profit to any one. So the reverse logic – to build Setu-Samudram canal, the Rama Setu has to be broken; for that, Rama Setu has to be seen as a myth; for that, Rama has to be reduced to a Harry Potter. This may ultimately end as invitation for the return of Rama himself in politics, after he had kept away from it for almost a decade.
comment@gurumurthy.net

http://tinyurl.com/ysgvd5

Two officials suspended over Hindu god row

http://in.reuters.com/news/pictures/articleslideshow?articleId=INIndia-29547320070915&start=1 File photo of children dressed as the Hindu god Ram and his younger brother Lakshman in New Delhi. The government has suspended two directors at its archaeology agency for their role in a Supreme Court affidavit which suggested Hindu gods did not exist, officials said on Saturday.

REUTERS/B. Mathur

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – The government has suspended two directors at its archaeology agency for their role in a Supreme Court affidavit which suggested Hindu gods did not exist, officials said on Saturday.

The row has erupted over government plans to build a canal in an area where Hindus believe their god, Lord Ram, constructed a bridge-like feature thousands of years ago.

Ambika Soni, the culture minister who confirmed the suspensions, said she was prepared to resign over the matter if asked to by the prime minister or the party president.

“If the prime minister of India … would feel that I am culpable and want me to resign, it won’t take me a minute to do so,” she told reporters.

On Wednesday the government filed an affidavit which said some of Hinduism’s most important religious texts were not evidence that the gods ever existed.

The next day, after its Hindu-nationalist political opponents accused the government of blasphemy, H.R. Bharadwaj, the law minister, said the controversial parts of the affidavit would be withdrawn.

He added that India’s officially secular government would never doubt the existence of Lord Ram.

The culture ministry has since suspended a director and an assistant director at the Archaeological Survey of India, which prepared the affidavit, while it investigates what happened, Soni said.

The minister said the officials had ignored some of the revisions she wanted made after seeing a draft of the affidavit.

A woman who answered the telephone at the house of one of the suspended officials said he would not be commenting for now.

The government filed the affidavit as it defends its plan to build a canal through a bridge-like stretch of sandbanks and rocks between the Indian coast and Sri Lanka — a formation variously known as Adam’s Bridge and Ram Sethu, or Ram’s Bridge.

Some Hindus oppose the project, believing the bridge was built millennia ago by Lord Ram and his army of monkeys, as described in the Ramayana, a revered ancient epic. The government has said the structure was moulded by the ocean.

The $560-million Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project is intended to shave up to 36 hours off ship journeys between India’s western and eastern coasts. Conservationists say the project will kill marine life and harm fishermen’s livelihoods.

http://in.reuters.com/article/topNews/idINIndia-29547320070915

Ram Sethu controversy

IANS

BJP seizes on Centre’s faux pas to seek apology

Thursday, 13 September , 2007, 20:55

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday smelt political opportunity in the government’s apparent faux pas over a judicial affidavit that said there was no historical evidence to prove the existence of Lord Ram. The BJP sought the government apology for “hurting the sentiments of millions of Hindus”.

Though the government said it would file a fresh affidavit in the Supreme Court, that was hearing a petition on the controversial Sethusamudram shipping canal project, BJP leader L K Advani quickly held a press conference to declare that the government as “anti-Hindu”. He said Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should apologise to the community.

Also read: Ram Sethu — Centre to withdraw offending remarks

At a hastily convened press conference, Law Minister H R Bhardwaj regretted filing an affidavit with the controversial assertion and said the government would “amend its mistake” and file a fresh supplementary affidavit on Friday in the Supreme Court, omitting the reference to Lord Ram.

“Lord Ram is a matter of faith. It cannot be and should not be made the subject matter of any litigation,” Bhardwaj told reporters.

Congress sources said Sonia Gandhi has sought an explanation from the government over the references that have “hurt the sentiments” of the people and urged it to take remedial measures immediately.

Party insiders told IANS that an internal inquiry was already underway to pinpoint responsibility and identify specific persons from the culture ministry who briefed law officers in the case.

“Since the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) comes under the culture ministry, there will be questions as to whether the minister, Ambika Soni was aware of this brief,” said Congress sources.

In its affidavit on the Sethusamudram shipping channel, the ASI said there were no “historical records” to prove the existence of Lord Ram or the Ram Sethu (bridge).

The ASI’s affidavit earlier kicked off a major political controversy with the BJP convening an emergency meeting to pressurise the government to withdraw the controversial affidavit from the apex court.

The party has been protesting the Rs 2,400-crore canal project that would see a navigational route through India’s west and east coasts, saying that it would damage the bridge that Hindus believe was build by Lord Ram millennia ago.

He held Sonia Gandhi personally responsible for this. “Formally the Prime Minister but actually the Congress president is responsible. We don’t accept their plea that the Congress president is angry therefore they are submitting a counter-affidavit. This is a false tactic.”

Advani spoke to newsmen on Thursday after presiding over a meeting of the office-bearers of the BJP at the party headquarters on the issue of the ASI affidavit in the Supreme Court denying the historical existence of Ram.

He said he had tried to speak to Manmohan Singh over phone on Wednesday. But when he could not get across to him, he spoke to his media adviser Sanjaya Baru and asked him to convey the hurt feelings of the Hindus to the Prime Minister.

Threatening a nationwide agitation by the party’s youth wing, Advani also demanded immediate withdrawal of the affidavit and added, “I have heard that they have said they will give a supplementary,” but dismissed it saying, “Supplementing is not the same as withdrawing it.”

He also demanded “an inquiry panel to fix the ministerial responsibility for this blunder.”

Lastly, he sought a guarantee that “Ram Setu must be protected by redesigning the Sethusamudram (shipping canal) project.”

Law Minister Bharadwaj said the new affidavit would be personally scrutinised by Law Secretary T K Vishvananthan in consultation with Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam. He said he would personally clear the affidavit before it is submitted to the apex court, implying that the earlier affidavit had not received high-level scrutiny.

According to Congress sources, the party leadership wanted to find out how the government allowed such a reference on a sensitive issue to be included in the affidavit at a time when the right wing forces were already on the warpath over the sea channel project.

“The party has to find out how did the government allow such a goof up when the possibility of a general election is looming over it?” asked a Congress MP.

The Communist Party of India (CPI) general secretary, D Raja said the BJP was trying to make heavy weather of nothing.

“The BJP has no other issue on this country and has gone to sea to trying to fish for communal issues in the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal,” Raja said.

Advani said, “The BJP deems the UPA government’s anti-Hindu act to be a very grave development in the political and social history of India. I would like to warn the leadership of the Congress party and the government that, unless corrective action is taken immediately, it will face a massive sustained and peaceful protest action all over the country. The BJP will participate in this agitation in full force,” said the former home minister.

http://sify.com/news/fullstory.php?id=14526600

  • Posted: Fri, Sep 14 2007. 9:02 AM IST

Channelling religious sentiment into rare political opportunity

Travellers walked to Sri Lanka on this 30km long and 3km wide bridge until 1480

Priyanka P. Narain

Mumbai: In a fire-fighting exercise, the government said on Thursday it would withdraw parts of an affidavit filed on its behalf in the Supreme Court that said there was no historical evidence of Ram having existed or built the Ram Sethu, a coral bridge that links India to Sri Lanka.

Law minister H.R. Bharadwaj said the government would withdraw the offending parts of the affidavit and file a supplementary one before the court on Friday. People close to the development said that Congress president and United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi had personally directed the government to do this, though Mint couldn’t independently confirm this. On Friday, the court will consider whether it should revise its own order asking the government not to do any work on the bridge.

The bridge has been at the heart of a controversy ever since the government decided to destroy it as part of a project to create a channel between the Bay of Bengal and the Gulf of Mannar, cutting a day’s passage for ships circumnavigating India. The project has been opposed by politicians, scientists, environmentalists and religious groups.

On Wednesday, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a Hindu organization, organized protests in various parts of the country against the project to build the channel. The previously scheduled campaign became more strident after the government’s filing to the apex court with the main opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, sensing a political opportunity.

“It is likely that this issue will transform the Bharatiya Janata Party’s political fortunes,” predicts Mahesh Rangarajan, an independent political analyst.

Since Tuesday, Mint has been running a special four-part series—of which this is the last—on the so-called Adam’s Bridge (or Sethusamudram) project, a Rs2,600 crore effort by the government (see box above). The stories have examined the claimed economic benefits of the project and progress, or the lack thereof, on it.

The bridge at the heart of the controversy cannot be seen at all on most days. It is only when the tide is right that this coral formation that links India and Sri Lanka can be seen.

Travellers walked to Sri Lanka on this 30km long and 3km wide bridge until 1480. Then, a cyclone came and the waters consumed the bridge. Its existence passed out of common knowledge and became legend.

Hindu protestors—who believe that Ram built this bridge with the help of an army of monkeys, attacked the demon king Ravana in Lanka and rescued his wife, Sita—say that the project, which plans to cut through the Ram Sethu to create a channel linking the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean, is a “deliberate design to destroy the most ancient relic of Hindu history.”

On 31 August, when the apex court was informed about an alleged government plan to blast the bridge, it issued a stay on all work on the Rs2,600 crore Sethusamudram project for two weeks. A two-judge bench will hear the arguments on Friday and decide if the stay should continue or be lifted.

It is for this hearing that the government filed the affidavit saying there is no proof that Ram ever existed. Belligerent Hindus say they cannot believe this assault on their faith. Pravin Togadia, the general secretary of the VHP, said: “Do they ask the Muslims to prove that the hair in Hazratbal mosque really belongs to Prophet Mohammed? We believe this bridge was built by Ram and the belief of millions of Hindus is enough.”

BJP leader L.K. Advani said in an earlier interview with Mint that the VHP should fight the project not on religious grounds alone. Last evening, after an emergency meeting with top leaders of the VHP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), another right-wing organization, he demanded that the government: withdraw the affidavit, filed on its behalf by the Archaeological Society of India, completely; apologize to the people of the country for offending their faith; and fix ministerial responsibility for the affidavit.

A political platform

The battle lines are drawn and positions have hardened, Ram Sethu watchers say.

The VHP, known to do ‘dry runs’ for the BJP in the past, has been conducting rallies, speeches and campaigns in South India over the past few months and such efforts seem to have reached critical mass.

On Wednesday, traffic came to a standstill in many parts of North India as the VHP Rasta Roko campaign forced cars and trains to stop for three hours in the morning. Many BJP and VHP workers, including key leaders such as Togadia and Ashok Singhal, were arrested.

The South remained relatively unaffected by the Rasta Roko campaign.

However, the VHP’s rally in Rameshwaram was more successful. About 50,000 people had gathered in Rameshwaram to attend the VHP’s ‘Chalo Rameshwaram’ rally in late August. Sadhus from North and South India and BJP workers from across India, including the four southern states, participated in the rally. As did, unexpectedly, Christian fishermen from the Tamil Nadu coastline, nuclear scientists from Mumbai and Chennai, and economists from Karnataka.

Vyankatesh Abdeo, all India joint secretary of the VHP, said they expected thousands to show up but “this was beyond our expectations.”

Pralay Kanungo, who teaches at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Centre for Political Studies, said that this is the first time the VHP has received such mass response in South India. The fact this huge rally happened even though Ram has never captured popular imagination in the South shows that the VHP has touched a chord.

“They have been trying to achieve this for a long time now. They already have a huge Ram following in the North. This is an attempt to link North and South India through the symbol of Ram,” added Kanungo.

Kanungo said it was open to debate whether the BJP would benefit from this movement in the 2009 general elections. What is unquestionable is the importance of this movement, he added.

“They have been trying hard for a South India presence since the 1960s. Even if this movement fails, it will be an important one for the BJP,” said Rangarajan.

The real challenge for the BJP, though, is fighting the spectre of Ayodhya, where, in 1992, the party and its associates such as the VHP, were involved in the demolition of the Babri Masjid that allegedly stood at the site of Ram’s birthplace. “They lost credibility with that. To regain trust, once again on the Ram platform, among a people not particularly fond of Rama, is not going to be easy,” Kanungo said.

But it seems that at least some people are willing to give them another chance. In Chennai, C. Subramaniam, an electrical engineer, who started an SMS campaign to save the Ram Sethu, says this is about protecting something and so it is different from Ayodhya. “This is different. Who knows if there had been a Ram temple at the site (in Ayodhya) or not? Here, we know there is a bridge. What we don’t know is who built it. And until we don’t find an answer to that question, it cannot be destroyed.”

The court’s stay came after Subramanian Swamy, a member of the Janata party, alleged that the government plans to use explosives to blast the bridge. When the government’s lawyer, additional solicitor general Gopal Subramanium, did not deny the allegation, the bench issued an injunction ordering the project authorities not to damage any part of the bridge.

“This victory in court also marks the return of the blue-eyed boy of the RSS into the fold,” Kanungo explained. Swamy, a Tamil Brahmin who teaches economics at Harvard, was one of the favourite mascots of the Sangh Parivar, until he went off on a political tangent. “But the fact that he is taking up a leadership role in this movement is a clear signal that he is back,” said Kanungo.

If he gets the stay to stay, Swamy will become hero to many in the VHP and the RSS. If he fails, and the court lifts the stay, VHP and RSS workers say it will be a fight to the finish. Abdeo said: “There will be Mahabharata in the name of Ramayana in India,” a reference to a coming ‘great war’.

PTI contributed to this story.

http://www.livemint.com/2007/09/13233242/Channelling-religious-sentimen.html

Indo-Asian News Service

Bhopal, September 13, 2007

First Published: 20:57 IST(13/9/2007)

Last Updated: 21:12 IST(13/9/2007)

Uma Bharti to file FIR on Ram Sethu muddle

Bharatiya Janshakti president Uma Bharti on Thursday said she would file a police complaint against those involved in submitting to the Supreme Court a government affidavit on the Sethusamudram project which claimed there were no “historical records” to prove the existence of Lord Ram or the Ram Sethu.

Bharti said she would reach New Delhi on September 22 with thousands of party workers and lodge a first information report (FIR) at the police station nearest to parliament.

“If the FIR is not lodged and action not taken against those involved in the conspiracy, we would launch an intensified agitation,” she said.

“The Sethu is a symbol of national importance and Hindu beliefs, and I shall work to safeguard it, come what may,” she said.

Talking to reporters in Bhopal, she also advised the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders not to make the issue their political agenda or it would lose its relevance.

Bharti said though the government has decided to file a fresh affidavit on Friday, that does not reduce the responsibility of those who committed the blunder and hurt the feelings of the Hindu community even as the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi remained a mute spectator.

The former Madhya Pradesh chief minister sought an apology from the Congress over the issue and demanded an immediate halt to the project.

http://tinyurl.com/37kvbm

Sonia prods government into drafting ASI affidavit on Sethusamudram anew

http://archive.gulfnews.com/articles/07/09/14/10153600.html

09/14/2007 07:14 PM | IANS

New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s intervention has spurred the government into action to extricate itself from the controversy generated by its affidavit on the Sethusamudram canal project.

The government announced yesterday afternoon that it would file a fresh affidavit before the Supreme Court, removing the controversial remarks on the Hindu deity Ram.

Congress sources said Sonia had sought an explanation from the government over the references that “hurt the sentiments” of the people and urged it to take prompt remedial measures.

In a hurriedly called press conference, Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj expressed regret over the affidavit with the controversial assertion, and said the government would “amend its mistake” and file a fresh supplementary affidavit today in the Supreme Court, omitting the reference to Ram.

Admission

“It is a matter of faith. It cannot be and should not be made the subject matter of any litigation,” Bhardwaj told reporters.

In its affidavit on the Sethusamudram shipping channel, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) said there were no “historical records” to prove the existence of the deity or the Ram Sethu (bridge).

The ASI’s affidavit earlier kicked off a major political controversy with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) convening an emergency meeting to pressurise the government to withdraw the controversial affidavit from the apex court.

The BJP has been protesting against the Rs24 billion (Dh2.1 billion) canal project that would see a navigational route through India’s west and east coasts, saying that it would “damage” the mythological bridge that is considered sacred by many Hindus.

Personal scrutiny

Bhardwaj said the new affidavit would be personally scrutinised by Law Secretary T.K. Vishvananthan in consultation with Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam. He said he would personally clear the affidavit before it was submitted to the apex court.

He said Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani met him on Wednesday and objected to “the language and the reference to Ram in it in a wrong manner”.

“He (Advani) told me that Ram is a matter of faith and cannot be made the subject matter of any litigation and I fully agree with him,” he said.

According to Congress sources, the party leadership sought to know how the government allowed such a reference on a sensitive issue to be included in the affidavit at a time when the right wing forces were already on the warpath over the sea channel project.

“The party has to find out how the government allowed such a goof-up when the possibility of a general election is looming large,” said a Congress MP.

http://archive.gulfnews.com/articles/07/09/14/10153600.html

JAYALALITHA ALSO GOES TO INDIAN SUPREME COURT TO STOP SETHU SAMUDRAM ON SECURITY OF INDIA & SRI LANKA

By Walter Jayawardhana

Moving the Indian Supreme Court All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazagam (AIADMK) leader and former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Jayalalitha Jeyaram requested the courts to restrain the Central government from “destroying” “Ram Sethu” or Adams Bridge between Sri Lanka and India and said it raises serious problems of the security and rights of the territorial waters of Sri Lanka and India.

She said in her petition to the Supreme Court Sri Lanka and India had always considered the territorial waters of Palk Bay , Gulf of Mannar and Palk Straits under their respective territorial rights whereas the US has objected to such claims and considered them international waters.

She argued the destruction of the Rama Sethu, considered by millions of Hindus as a bridge constructed by a Vanara Sena (monkey army) led by Hanuman at the behest of Lord Rama , would expose the country to a great security threat by the United States.

In an earlier petition the Janata Party leader Subramanian Swami has pointed out that the dredging of the barrier to allow navigation of big ships across the Palk Strait the environment of Sri Lanka would be greatly damaged. He said earlier it would only facilitate the brigand boats of the sea faring LTTE to engage in gun and narcotic drug running.

Jayalalitha Jeyaram, has also quoted extensively various historical literature and compilations, and said the “Ram Setu” bridge is a symbol of might and power of human will and the construction of the bridge by the vanar sena of Lord Rama was a victory of human endeavor in the face of adversity.
Since Jayalalitha was the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu she has vehemently opposed the dredging of the Rama Sethu Canal and demanded that the work for the controversial $560-million Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project (SSCP) be halted immediately because ,she claimed, it had badly hit the livelihood of fishermen and endangered marine biology in the sea south of the southern Indian state.

In a strongly-worded statement issued in state capital Chennai, she then declared: “Concerned with the welfare of the people, my government cannot permit this project completely ruining the fishermen`s lives. We cannot remain a silent spectator when the fishermen are being put to great suffering.”

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had launched the dredging work for the project at a gala public function in Madurai on July 2 2005. It was attended by the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, and leaders of UPA partners in Tamil Nadu, including Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader Muthuvel Karunanidhi.

But Ms Jayalalithaa had boycotted that function on the ground that the project was being rushed through by her political enemies without proper environmental assessment. The bitter rivalry between Ms Jayalalithaa`s AIADMK (then in power in Tamil Nadu), and the DMK (which shares power in Prime Minister Dr Singh`s coalition government at the center since then and rules Tamil Nadu now) has converted the Sethusamudram project into a bone of contention between the two biggest DMK oriented parties.

http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items07/140907-2.html

BJP to discuss Sethusamudram row in national executive

Bhopal, Sept. 14 (PTI): The BJP will discuss the row on the Sethusamudram project at its national executive slated to begin here from September 21, party sources said today.

Besides focussing on the ‘Rama Sethu’ issue, the assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh scheduled for 2008 and the BJP’s strategy to come to power at the Centre will be discussed at the three-day meet.

After the 1996 national executive of the BJP here, it came to power at the Centre and the managers of the meeting are hoping that the successful completion of the upcoming meet will pave the way for the party to re-capture power in Delhi.

BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and central office in-charge Shyam Jaju will visit the state capital tomorrow to review arrangements being made by the party’s state unit for the meet.

Top BJP leaders, including former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Leader of the Opposition L K Advani, party President Rajnath Singh and senior leaders like M Venkaiah Naidu, Arun Jaitley, Ravi Shanker Prasad, Sushma Swaraj, Najma Heptulla and Maneka Gandhi are expected to attend the meet.

A hi-tech media centre will be established at a hotel near the BJP headquarters where the event will be held.

Bhupendra Singh, state party in-charge of the national executive, said nearly 232 delegates are expected to attend the meet.

http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/002200709141758.htm

It’s victory of Hindu society: VHP
14 Sep 2007, 1703 hrs IST,PTI
SMS NEWS to 58888 for latest updates

NEW DELHI: The VHP on Friday hailed the government’s move to withdraw its controversial affidavit on Lord Ram as victory of the Hindu society and said it will decide next week the next steps of its campaign against the Sethusamudram project.
“It’s victory of Hindu society. Hindu protests have forced the government to backtrack,” said VHP leader Praveen Togadia, who had indirectly warned the BJP against “politicising”.
“We want the government to cancel the Sethusamudram project. We will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday in Delhi to plan our next course of action,” he said.
The VHP leader also welcomed AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa’s comments that there was no need to damage the Ram Setu, an undersea bridge believed to have been built by Lord Ram.

http://tinyurl.com/37vtea

Sethu: DMK irked by Govt’s rollback move

Express news service / Jaya Menon

Posted online: Saturday, September 15, 2007 at 0000 hrs IST

CHENNAI, SEPTEMBER 14
The ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu is quietly seething over the Centre’s decision to withdraw its affidavits on the Sethusamudram project and seek three months to examine the issue of dredging near the controversial Adam’s Bridge.

Interestingly, despite a court stay on dredging four weeks ago, the official website of the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP) continues to post details of the current operations, indicating that the dredging is in progress in the Palk Strait and in the area north of Adam’s Bridge. Details of the project status and the quantity dredged have been clearly tabulated until September 13, 2007.

Union Shipping Minister T R Baalu, the protagonist of the Rs 2,427-crore SSCP, who pushed the project through and ensured its formal launch on July 1, 2005, sounded upset when contacted. “I do not wish to comment on the project when it is before the court,” he said. On whether the project was likely to be shelved, he said: “That is up to the court now.”

Hailed by politicians as a project that would usher in development in Tamil Nadu, the SSCP was the mascot for the DMK and other political parties in the state, both for the Lok Sabha election and the May 2006 Assembly election. While the DMK had promised voters that it would ensure that the project would be launched if it had a say in the Centre in the Lok Sabha election, in the state election last year, the party gloated the SSCP achievement as its own.

“Obviously, the election fever has started and the Congress has thought it best to convince those advocating Ram Sethu on the feasibility of the project rather than provoke them. But all this is only going to delay the project and push the deadline for its completion further,” pointed out a peeved Union Minister from the DMK, who did not wish to be named.

Chief Minister M Karunanidhi has chosen to remain silent though the Government’s decision to withdraw its two affidavits in the Supreme Court had been conveyed to him. Busy inaugurating development projects in the districts, Karunanidhi is yet to react on the SSCP.

“This is the time the CM has to be careful. No one can prevent Sethusamudram project from happening. So it is better that our leader treads cautiously,” said a senior DMK leader in Tamil Nadu.

Lashing out against the BJP for opposing the project now, DMK seniors pointed out how the SSCP had received the green signal during the NDA regime. “It is a planned and planted effort to spoil growth and development in the south. They can’t believe that this kind of project could make such progress,” said a senior leader.

While AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa had raised strident protests on the grounds that the livelihood of fishermen in the region would be affected besides the project affecting the sensitive marine bio-park, she did a sudden volte face on Wednesday, choosing to toe the BJP’s line. She has demanded that the Centre examine alternative alignments and save the Ram Sethu as a “monument”.

Her ally and MDMK chief Vaiko has been rather quiet on the issue. Vaiko has been a strong proponent of the project and had criticised the DMK strongly during the Assembly election campaign for taking sole credit for getting it implemented.

Allyspeak

RJD: Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav on Thursday accused the BJP of exploiting the Sethusamudram project and asserted that Ram Sethu did not exist. “Lord Ram did exist but there is no Sethu. A lot of things happen naturally,” Yadav said. “The BJP is just making an issue out of the whole thing,” he said.

CPI(M): Party Politburo member Sitaram Yechury said: “It is improper to interfere in the religious affairs of any community as the Constitution provides protection to all religions in the country.” Meanwhile, appreciating the Government’s decision to withdraw certain paragraphs in the affidavit filed by the Archaeological Survey of India in the Sethusamudram case, the CPI(M) Politburo flayed the BJP for what it called “bankrupt communal politics”. “The Government of India has taken an appropriate decision to withdraw certain paragraphs in the affidavit filed by the ASI in the Supreme Court that were considered extraneous to the matter at hand,” it said in a statement.

http://www.indianexpress.com/story/217015.html

UPA ‘atonement’: Affidavits withdrawn, review promised, 2 ASI officials suspended

Amitabh Sinha / Tannu Sharma

Posted online: Saturday, September 15, 2007 at 0000 hrs IST

NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 14
Desperate to cut its political losses, the Centre today, as it had promised yesterday, withdrew from the Supreme Court its two affidavits on the Sethusamudram project, including the controversial one by the Archaeological Survey of India that questioned the existence of Lord Ram.

Not only this, it also told the court that it would “re-examine the entire matter” (the Sethusamudram canal project) and needed three months for this. In a parallel process, two ASI officials were suspended for what was called their “failure to carry out government instructions.”

Director (Administration) Chandrasekhar and Assistant Director (Monuments) V Bakshi were suspended with immediate effect after an internal inquiry conducted by ASI Director General Anshu Vaishya held them responsible for not carrying out the corrections in the affidavit as was suggested by the Culture Ministry, government sources told The Indian Express.

Earlier, in the court, acknowledging “the wide-ranging public sentiment” to the “decision of the Central Government to proceed with the construction of the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal,” Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium told the bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan: “The Central Government, without any reservations, in a spirit of inclusiveness and high democratic tradition, to consider a different point of view, withdraws the present affidavit, to re-examine the entire matter.”

The court extended an interim stay restraining the government from causing any damage to Ram Setu/ Adam’s Bridge. However, dredging, to the extent it does not cause damage, has been allowed. The matter has been posted for hearing in the first week of January 2008.

Subramanium said he had instructions on this from the “highest level in the government” and submitted that the “government has total respect for all religions, and Hinduism in particular, in the context of the present case” and that it is aware and conscious of “religious sensibilities, including the unique, ancient and holy text of Ramayana.”

“The Central Government respects the sentiments of each and every individual citizen within the parameters of the Constitution, and acknowledges every citizen’s fundamental right to feel a part of the composite cultural and religious heritage of the country,” Subramanium said.

He clarified that the controversial remarks were in the “nature of pleadings and was a mere technical plea” and that the affidavit did not “at any point of time intend to touch upon the freedom/articles of faith or belief of any section of society. The UPA government sought to assure everyone concerned that “all material would be re-scrutinised with care and circumspection, including any alternative suggestion.”

Announcing that a “mechanism” would be in place where anybody who has got any objections on the project would be heard, the Government counsel emphasised that the Centre is “keen that its decisions bind and bring the society together, rather than cause any disruption in the religious and social psyche of one true India.”

Meanwhile, officials claimed that the objectionable lines in the affidavit had been deleted by the Culture Ministry and the ASI was instructed to carry out the necessary corrections before filing it in the court. While some of the corrections were carried out, the controversial lines remained: “contents of the Valmiki Ramayana, the Ramcharitmanas by Tulsidas and other mythological texts, which admittedly form an important part of ancient Indian literature…cannot be said to be historical record to incontrovertibly prove the existence of the characters, or the occurrence of the events, depicted therein.”

Bakshi is said to be the officer responsible for carrying out the corrections while Chandrasekhar was coordinating with the Ministry of Culture and office of the Additional Solicitor General in the exercise of filing this affidavit. The Director General, ASI was yesterday asked to conduct an inquiry to find out how and where the lapse had occurred.

The DG herself has not been spared either with Culture Secretary Badal K Das asking her to furnish a “personal explanation” in the matter. Vaishya has been asked to explain her role and what she had done to ensure that the corrections were carried out, the sources said. Culture Minister Ambika Soni, who returned from Japan this evening, was briefed on the issue by Ministry officials. She was unavailable for comment.

http://www.indianexpress.com/story/217104.html

Swamy honoured for ‘saving’ Ram Sethu bridge

Chennai, Sep 15 : Janata Party President Dr Subramanian Swamy was today honoured by Kanchi mutt senior pontiff Jayendra Saraswati for his contribution to save the Ramsethu bridge from demolition as part of the Sethusamudram Shipping canal project.

At the function organised at the mutt, the seer also performed poojas for the long life and good health of Dr Swamy on his birthday, according to a release here from the party office.
Dr Swamy was also invited to Gokarnath temple in Gorakhpur and Kasi Viswanath temple in Varanasi later this month, the release added.

— UNI

http://www.newkerala.com/oct.php?action=fullnews&id=559

No historical proof for existence of Lord Ram: DMK
15 Sep 2007, 1255 hrs IST,PTI
SMS NEWS to 58888 for latest updates

SALEM: Breaking his silence on the controversy over the Centre’s initial stand in the Supreme Court on the Sethusamudram project, DMK President M Karunanidhi has endorsed the first affidavit that there was no historical proof of the existence of Lord Ram or Ramsetu.
“There is no historical proof for the existence of Lord Ram or the bridge. AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa has filed a case against the demolition of so-called Ramsetu. The government will face the case,” the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister said late on Saturday night while laying the foundation for various projects.
DMK is the prime mover of the Sethusamudram project in the UPA government and parties in Tamil Nadu passionately argue for it.
Karunanidhi charged BJP and AIADMK with attempting to break the alliance between his party and PMK but said such attempts would not succeed as both the parties were “real Dravidian parties.”
“PMK and DMK are Dravidian parties, which cannot allow these sort of stories and we will fight for the project till the end,” Karunanidhi said.
AIADMK and BJP in their manifestos had said that if they came to power, they would complete the Sethusamudram project, he pointed out.
“But now they are opposing it”, Karunanidhi said.

http://tinyurl.com/345hyw

Saturday, September 15, 2007 1:18:00 AM

Permission to reprint or copy this article or photo must be obtained from www.3dsyndication.com.

UPA’s handling of issue annoys Left parties

Kay Benedict

But Sonia Gandhi’s damage-control measures praised

NEW DELHI: Even though the Left parties on Friday backed the UPA’s decision to withdraw its affidavit on the Sethusamudram project in supreme court, they are peeved with the Centre for mishandling the Ram Setu issue and giving the BJP an opportunity to twist the row to its advantage.

The Left also accused the BJP of “hypocrisy” as the later had passed the project during the NDA regime and was now opposing it.

Left sources said they were surprised at the inept way the issue was handled by the ministries of law and culture.

However, the Left parties have welcomed the damage control measures taken by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who had directed the ministry concerned to withdraw the contentious affidavit.

The CPI(M) politburo also commended the government’s decision to withdraw the affidavit. 

Meanwhile, RJD chief Lalu Prasad accused the BJP of exploiting the Setusamudram project. “Lord Ram did exist but there is no setu. A lot of things happen naturally,” he added.

“The BJP is just making an issue out of the whole thing,” he said.

http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?NewsID=1121514

CM slams Centre on Ramar Sethu issue

Saturday September 15 2007 06:50 IST

EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE

SALEM: Chief Minister M Karunanidhi on Friday mounted scathing attacks on the Centre for backtracking on the crucial Ramar Sethu issue in the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP) case pending before the Supreme Court.
Addressing a large audience during a government function, the DMK supremo -a trusted ally of the Centre- dared to say,“We care more for self respect than for the government” and categorically stated that the Centre’s decision to eliminate crucial aspects of the affidavit that questioned the existence of Lord Rama could not be accepted.
Karunanidhi added,“ We were brought up in the ways of Periyar and his principles of self respect”, and quoted former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru as saying,“Lord Rama was only a fictional character in a dramatised Aryan- Dravidian struggle.”
He slammed Jayalalitha for moving the court against her election manifesto, in which she had promised to implement the SSCP.
Karunanidhi indirectly referred to `Vaiko’ as the `tycoon’ who appealed for the SSCP and questioned where the same `tycoon’ had vanished now.
Finally, he recalled his meeting with a senior BJP leader and said the person wanted to carry on with the Ramar Sethu campaign only for the sake of politics.

http://tinyurl.com/2ujgl6

Sept. 15, 2007 Deccan Herala

http://www.deccanherald.com/Content/Sep152007/scroll2007091525571.asp?section=updatenews

No one benefits from a Rs2,600 crore channel

Without explaining, the project’s website says, “Substantial benefits will accrue to the national and regional economy.” Nobody, though, is sure how.

Priyanka P. Narain

On Wednesday, road and rail traffic in various parts of the country came to a halt on account of a bridge. The bridge is Adam’s Bridge, an underwater coral formation that links India to Sri Lanka. The Sethusamudram project is seeking to make passage of ships around India faster by dredging a way through this bridge and linking the Bay of Bengal to the Gulf of Mannar. Many Hindus believe this bridge was built by Ram to link India and Sri Lanka and consider it a holy relic. On Wednesday, matters came to a head with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a Hindu organization, orchestrating protests against the project.

Traffic came to a standstill in New Delhi. Similar disruptions were seen across the country following VHP’s protests against the projectTraffic came to a standstill in New Delhi. Similar disruptions were seen across the country following VHP’s protests against the project

On the same day, the Union government told the Supreme Court, which will eventually decide on the fate of the Sethusamudram project, that there is no evidence to establish the existence of Ram or other characters in Hindu epic Ramayana. In an affidavit filed before the court, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) said there was no “historical record” of Ram or that the coral formation was actually a bridge built by him. Leaders of the main opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), termed the affidavit “blasphemous”. “This is an insult to the Hindu faith,” added Vijay Kumar Malhotra, a BJP parliament member.

The VHP’s protests, planned ahead of the affidavit, will likely intensify after the government’s court filing. It isn’t just political and religious opposition that is ranged against the project, which could shave a day off the passage of ships circumnavigating India. Environmentalists and scientists are opposed to it, too. According to Tad Satya Murty, the chain of coral islands (Adam’s Bridge) “saved coastal Kerala” from the wrath of the December 2004 tsunami by deflecting the tidal wave back into the open sea. Coincidentally, on Wednesday, an earthquake of 7.9 magnitude that struck southern Indonesia triggered tsunami warnings in Singapore and the entire Indian Ocean region.

In a four-part series, Mint has been examining the real issues related to the project. Part 1 that appeared on Tuesday looked at the status of the project as well as the lack of information on all aspects of it, including costs. Part 2, on Wednesday, looked at the scientific opposition ranged against the project.

Mumbai: “Look at the poverty we live in,” says V. Vinod, the fisherman, waving at the broken thatch-leaf homes and colourful wooden boats anchored in shallow water that mark this desolate, barren stretch of beach near Rameshwaram. Entangled in the bramble, multi-coloured plastic bags flutter in the breeze. Two women are digging in the sand, hunting for fresh water below. Some others are performing morning ablutions near the shore.

Fisherman V. Vinod says he can’t understand how the mega project will help alleviate his community’s povertyFisherman V. Vinod says he can’t understand how the mega project will help alleviate his community’s poverty

Authorities of the Sethusamudram Corp. Ltd (SCL), the government company responsible for dredging a channel between the Bay of Bengal and the Gulf of Mannar, claim that the channel, which will shave 24 hours off the time it takes for ships to circumnavigate India, will change the lives of fishermen such as Vinod, and transform the entire coastal economy.

The project’s website makes a sales pitch about the economic growth of the region: “Substantial benefits will accrue to the national and regional economy. Actual payback period accumlated earnings due to implementation of the fishermen in the coastal districts.”

Mint could not get anyone to explain what that meant or if there was a number assigned to this. The website does not explain how this plan for economic progress will work. The project is supposed to cost Rs2,600 crore.

Vinod says that project authorities had told the fishermen it would help them earn a better living. “But how can it help us? How can ships passing by help us? Now these big, big ships will pass by us. How will we get fish?”

When asked about how this project was supposed to improve economic prosperity in the region, N.K. Raghupathy, former chairman of SCL and its most vocal champion, says: “Take a trip down the south coast and see the backwardness of the region. We have a plan for coming up with fishing harbours along the coast.”

Actually, the plan to come up with fishing harbours along the east coast of India is supposed to be an Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC) project.

Raghupathy corrects himself when this is pointed out: “Yes, that’s true. It’s not us actually, but ONGC does plan to have fishing harbours which will transform the fishing industry here.” He does not explain how this ONGC project is related to the Sethusamudram project.

L. Amalraj, vicar of the Sivaganga district, says he has been working with the local fishermen for the last four years. “Only a fisherman can understand what this project will do to them. The sea is their whole world. It is all they know. This project will benefit only the shipping companies. No one else,” he says.

Benefits for none?

It is unlikely that even shipping companies will benefit, says Capt. H. Balakrishnan, who left the Indian Navy in 1990 to join the merchant navy. He has put together a mariner’s report on the project. “I have been a mariner all my life. I have studied this project like a mariner and found that the project helps no one. To begin with, no ship of more than 30,000 tonnage will be able to use this channel because of its depth.

“Since this channel is just 12m deep, and you have to leave at least 2m space between the bottom of the ship and the seabed, only ships that sink 10m below the water can use it. Which means, the maximum weight these ships can carry is 30,000 tonnes,” Balakrishnan explains.

Until about 10 years ago, 30,000 tonnes would have been a good-sized ship, says Brian Alexander, an agent for foreign cargo ships, who has worked at various ports across the country for the past 25 years. “Now, I don’t know of any foreign ship that tiny. Even coal ships that come from Indonesia and Africa weigh at least 45,000 tonnes. In international shipping, the bigger the ship, the lower the freight. So you see, there is no incentive for small-sized cargo ships. I don’t think I know of any one who would even consider using that channel.”

It seems unlikely that Indian shippers will benefit either, says Anjani Sinha of the Multi Commodities Exchange, because negligible domestic trade is carried out on ships from coast to coast. Pressed for a ballpark estimate on the commodity trade that does happen by sea, he says, “Really, it is practically nothing.”

Indian shipping companies are equally sceptical. the country’s shipping firms have 725 ships that are small enough to be able to use this channel, but ship owners say they will not use it. “The whole thing is a waste of money, I think,” says Arun Sharma, president of the Kolkata-based India Steamship Co and member of the Indian National Shipowners Association. “Firstly, little domestic trade happens on the sea. Second, I don’t have ships that small. Third, even if I did, I would not use the channel. It is a security risk.”

The security issue comes from the proximity of the channel to Sri Lanka’s Jaffna coast where the insurgent group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), has been fighting for an autonomous Tamil state. LTTE members are reportedly active in the southern part of India as well, especially Rameshwaram. The government has issued a warning to all ships to steer at least 50 nautical miles clear of Sri Lanka’s Jaffna coast.

“Now they want us to go within a 15-mile distance, turn our propellers off and become sitting ducks for the LTTE? I don’t think so,” says Sharma.

Who’s the channel for?

“If international ships cannot use it (because they are too big) and domestic ships don’t need it, who exactly is going to use this channel?” asks Jacob John, an economist at Just Change India, who has compiled an economic viability report on the project. The SCL website says about 3,500 ships are expected to use this channel in the first year.

Some people at the Indian National Shipowners Association, who do not wish to be identified, disagree. “Who is going to use this channel?,” says one person.

“We are not sure how many shipowners will use it. We are not sure it makes economic sense for the ministry to go ahead with this channel. But it is our minister, and when he is facing so much criticism, we have to stand with him.”

He admits, however, that the channel will save time.

Some experts are not even sure about that. While the SCL website claims ships will save 24 hours of shipping time, Balakrishnan says this is not true: “If you could travel through the channel at the same speed as on the high seas, maybe you save that much.

“But the truth is that when ships have just 2m of water beneath them, they will be forced to turn off their propellers. If they try to use propellers in that channel, they will run aground. In fact, they will need piloting.”

“Getting a pilot for a ship is not easy. It takes a couple of hours to get a pilot on board. Then another few hours to slowly navigate the hulking ship through the 300m-wide channel.

“Add another couple of hours to off-board the pilot. After all this, they would be lucky if they saved a couple of hours,” says Balakrishnan.

Shipping minister T.R. Baalu and shipping secretary A.K. Mahapatra continue to maintain their silence on the project.

PTI contributed to this story

http://tinyurl.com/2s98c3

2 Responses to Rama Setu: bombing Ramayana and asking for s’aranaagati

  1. Anand Kumar says:

    Ram is a fiction story written by valmiki there is no ram or sita,people of this country should understand and not make big noises for stopping the sethu samudram project

  2. [...] rama setu: bombing ramayana and asking for s'aranaagati [...]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 28 other followers

%d bloggers like this: