While the world is fighting the unprecedented virus, India, along with the virus, has another pandemic that it has been dealing with for the longest time- the religious war. We are all aware of the disputed Babri masjid versus Ram Temple that started back in 1980 and has continued till recent times, causing so many causalities and violent altercations. With the November 2019 verdict of the Supreme Court that included the handing of the disputed land to a government-run trust for the construction of the temple, and the directive for construction of the mosque on an alternative piece of land, the court finally put an end to the dispute. This allowed for various organisations and trusts to engage in crowdfunding programs to raise funds for the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
One such trust, The Shri Ramjanmabhoomi Tirtha Kshetra trust, started a crowd-funding campaign for the Ram temple in Ayodhya on January 14 and estimated it would need Rs 1,100 crore for the project. By the time the campaign ended on February 27, the 900,000 volunteers who went from door to door, had collected Rs 2,500 crore. The 44-day campaign saw workers of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the trust contact over 1 million people for donations. “They succeeded in their goal of reaching four lakh villages under the campaign,” Champat Rai, the VHP vice-president had said. The Vishva Hindu Parishad is an Indian right-wing Hindu organization based on Hindu nationalism. The VHP was founded in 1964 by M. S. Golwalkar and S. S. Apte in collaboration with Swami Chinmayananda. Its stated objective is “to organise, consolidate the Hindu society and to serve and protect the Hindu Dharma”. It was established to construct and renovate Hindu temples, and deal with matters of cow slaughter and religious conversion.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone for the Ram temple on August 5, 2020. Work on filling the concrete for the three-storeyed shrine will begin in April and the structure is expected to be completed by 2024. The trust also plans to expand the temple complex as the number of devotees coming into the city each day has increased. Over 25,000 devotees visit the temple each day to see the Ram Lalla (infant Ram) idol. This is projected to increase to over 100,000 persons each day when the temple is ready. The Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Tirtha Kshetra trust sees the need to develop more public facilities for the devotees. According to the earlier plan, the temple was to be built on five acres and the complex on 70 acres. The trust now plans to construct the complex on 108 acres. A revenue department team has already started surveying the areas around the complex from March 3.
However, out of the significant amount that was collected during the drive, with Rajasthan contributing most to the loss amounting to Rs 500 crore, about 15,000 cheques have come to be considered invalid and have bounced. The bounced cheques have been announced to be invalid either due to insufficient funds or technical issues such as overwriting and mismatch of signatures, as revealed in the audit report published by the Shri Ramjanmabhoomi Tirtha Kshetra trust, a government of India set-up organisation. In terms of the money that these cheques held, their face value is approximated to be around Rupees 22 crore, as confirmed by reports. The information was recently made public by an audit report published by the Shri Ramjanmabhoomi Tirtha Kshetra trust. A member of the trust has confirmed that the boy is working with the banks and financial institutions to rectify the errors that can be corrected, looking at the significance of the said amount. The banks will give individuals whose cheques have bounced an opportunity to correct the errors, said Dr Anil Mishra, a member of the Shri Ramjanmabhoomi Tirtha Kshetra trust.
People from very different sections, geographical areas and political parties have contributed their bit in the fund for the construction of the temple of Lord Ram at their birthplace, Ayodhya. People from states like Ayodhya, Rajasthan, and Delhi etc., and from different parties like Congress and a lot more have contributed their shares to the fund. The cost of the construction that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad aimed at collecting, Rs 1,100 crore, was so large because the inner precincts of the temple are to be constructed completely without steel. “The stone to be used for the construction of Ram temple is from Banshi Pahadpur from Rajasthan’s Bharatpur.” Champat Rai, Vice president, Vishva Hindu Parishad, mentioned. “No steel will be used in the construction of inner precincts of Ram temple.” Rai had stated.
The treasurer of the trust, Swami Govinddev Giri, claimed that of the 15,000 cheques that have bounced, 2,000 belonged to Ayodhya itself. The other 13,000 belonged to different parts of the country and the trust would get in touch with the bank to rectify issues that they can. “We are sending the bounced cheques back and appeal to those people to issue fresh ones,” said Swami Govinddev Giri. Even if all the bounced amount is not recovered, the Shri Ramjanmabhoomi Tirtha Kshetra trust has received much more than it had asked for during the campaign which would be put to other uses in the construction of the temple, updates about whom are still to be received.