The head priest of Hyderabad’s Chilkur Balaji temple, C.S. Rangarajan, and his father, Dr Soundararajan, former head priest, are considered legal luminaries with a high scientific temperament and exert considerable influence in the region. The two were also a part of the Ram janmabhoomi movement in Ayodhya. The Daily Guardian meets Rangarajan on the issue of the foundation stonelaying ceremony of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. Excerpts of the interview:
Q. After years of legal battle, the ground-breaking ceremony for the temple is finally going to happen. What are your thoughts on this?
A. It’s a great blessing for devotees of Lord Ram all over the world. Lord Ram has finally won a long legal battle through a constitutional process. The judiciary has recognised the legal rights of the deity. We are all thankful to the judiciary for correcting a decades-old wrong. We had doubted whether we would see the Ram temple in Ayodhya. But we are thankful to the Government of India. With the consensus and involvement of all sections of the society, the temple must be built as soon as possible.
The sreeranga kshetram is housing Lord Ranganath Swamy who belongs to Lord Rama’s dynasty. They are sending the divine mud of the Kaveri river, along with which mud from the southern Ayodhya, that is, Badrachalam, which is on the banks of river Godavari will be sent. We have planned many programmes on 5 August at Badrachalam. Ram is the culture of our country. Countries like South Korea, Cambodia and Indonesia all share a connection with Ayodhya.
Q. What according to you would be the significance of this event? Considering that the temple is getting constructed unopposed, would you say that this symbolises India’s unity?
A. Lord Ram is an embodiment of dharma itself. Ram’s personification is acceptable to all sections of society. Other faiths appreciate it too. Muslims also contribute to the construction of temples. So everyone is involved. I have seen on TV how Muslims in Ayodhya are stitching clothes for Lord Ram’s idol. This is the cultural identity of the India.
Q. Given the Covid pandemic, do you think a physical ceremony is the right way or should there be a virtual ceremony?
A. Even if the pandemic exists, the silanyas and bhoomi pujan cannot be done virtually. But the government is taking all precautions now to stop Covid-19. Which is why the number of participants is restricted. My father and I participated in the Ayodhya Ram janmabhoomi Andolan. If there were no Covid-19, we and our family would have gone to Ayodhya.
I don’t find anything wrong in a physical ceremony. Unless we lay the foundation stone, we cannot construct a temple.
Q Since you have fought previously for Padmanabhaswamy too, what are the rights of the deity in the Indian Constitution?
A. The rights of deities have a question mark hanging after the judgment on the Sabarimala temple. The Supreme Court passed one unfortunate judgment and we pleaded for that. We went for a review. In the Ananta Padmanabhaswamy judgment, the deity was considered the ruler of the temple. But the judgment on Ayodhya says that the deity has rights to satisfy his spiritual purposes, and these rights have been recognised.
We have written a letter to the President of India asking him to recognise the constitutional rights of deities: Once the Ram temple is constructed and Ram is invoked in his idol, what are his rights? Unless we provide exclusive rights like how worship should be done as per his wishes and if citizenship is given to the deity, the problem will be solved.
Q. What will you say to politicians like Asaduddin Owaisi who have slammed the PM for attending the event?
A. I request Owaisi to rethink his statement. He should not have only a religious perspective. Ram is not a religious figure. He is the culture of India and an identity for the nation. Ram is part of our legacy. So, one should not think only in terms of religion.
Q. What will you say to seers who say the muhurat isn’t auspicious for the event?
A. There are differing views, but I would say it is better late than never. For Ram there is no muhurtham. Sri Rama is beyond things like a muhurat. People did not consider muhurat before destroying the temple. The moment we start constructing the temple is the right muhurtam. Besides, this is the month of shravana, it’s an auspicious month.
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Typhoon Talas smashes Japan, leaving thousands without water, electricity, two killed
Thousands of people in central Japan were without running water and electricity on Sunday after Typhoon Talas dumped record rainfall on the area, causing floods and landslides and leaving at least two people dead.
According to the AFP’s published report, the body of a man in Kakegawa city, Shizuoka region, was pulled from what remained of his house on Saturday after a landslide destroyed it.
“Another male (in neighbouring Fukuroi city) was driving to his home (Saturday) when the water level rose and his vehicle apparently stopped. While the individual tried to walk home, he was believed to have died,” a regional disaster management official said.
He stated that another man was still unaccounted for in Kawanehoncho town, Shizuoka, after his car slid into a gap that appeared in the road. He also mentioned that three other people received minor wounds.
According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, Typhoon Talas battered central Japan on Friday and Saturday as it passed by close off the Pacific coast, pouring more than 40 centimetres (16 inches) of rain in Shizuoka villages in a single day.
Before heading back out to the Pacific on Saturday morning, it was downgraded to a depression.
Up to 120,000 homes may have lost power on Saturday as a result of the storm’s heavy rains causing landslides, including in the isolated mountains of Shizuoka. This is because several electricity pylons fell and broke as a result.
According to the local firm Chubu Electric Power, 2,910 homes in Shizuoka and the neighbouring Gifu region were still without electricity as of Sunday afternoon.
“As for those areas where restoration crews are not able to reach due to blocked roads after landslides, we will make progress while analysing the conditions of the landslides,” the utility said.
Debris choked a water inlet in Shizuoka, leaving almost 55,000 homes without running water.
“Currently, we are working to remove debris from a water inlet. But for now we are unable to give any estimate as to when it can be restored,” the regional government said in a statement Sunday morning.
Typhoons regularly cause significant damage to Japan in the summer and fall.
Typhoon Nanmadol struck southwestern Japan this weekend, leaving 147 people injured and four dead.
Neeraj Bawana gang’s sharpshooter detained in Delhi
A team from the Crime Branch detained a sharpshooter and a member of the Neeraj Bawana gang on Thursday in Delhi’s Dwarka neighbourhood.
Praveen, a resident of Baghpat in the state of Uttar Pradesh, was identified as the accused. In addition, the authorities seized a revolver and two live cartridges from his possession.
He was involved in more than 10 crimes, and in 2020, the court granted him parole in a robbery case. He violated his parole nevertheless and started committing crimes again. He participated actively in the Neeraj Bawana gang. The accused were seeking a chance to exact revenge on Ashok Pardhan and his group on the orders of Neeraj Bawana, who is detained at Tihar Jail.
The Crime Branch recently detained two Ashok Pardhan gang members: Rohit alias Lamba and Gaurav alias Love Sharma alias Sandeep alias Masalewala.
Jaishankar chides Pakistan and China in his address to the UNGA
Jaishankar, Minister of external affairs, sent a stern message to China on Friday regarding its opposition to the UN’s blacklisting of terrorists, stating those who politicise the UNSC 1267 Sanctions system in order to safeguard declared terrorists do so at their own peril.
Jaishankar made reference to Pakistan without naming it and stated that “no speech, however sanctimonious, can ever cover-up blood stains.”
“The United Nations responds to terrorism by sanctioning its perpetrators. Those who politicise the UNSC 1267 Sanctions regime, sometimes to the extent of defending proclaimed terrorists, do so at their own peril. Believe me, they advance neither their own interests nor indeed their reputation,” Jaishankar said at the United Nations General Assembly without naming China.
Sanctions are outlined in Resolution 1267 against people and organisations who enable or fund ISIL, Al-Qaida, or any affiliated terrorist organization’s deeds.
Jaishankar extended an invitation to all UN members to attend the Counter-Terrorism Committee meetings in Mumbai and New Delhi.
Additionally, he stated that India must develop a global architecture in response to the new technological instruments being used against pluralistic, open, and diverse civilizations.
“Having borne the brunt of cross-border terrorism for decades, India firmly advocates a “zero-tolerance” approach. In our view, there is no justification for any act of terrorism, regardless of motivation. And no rhetoric, however sanctimonious, can ever cover up blood stains,” Jaishankar said at the UNGA.
The External Affairs Minister stated during the meeting that the UN members supported the Security Council reforms. He added that because the current architecture is acknowledged to be outdated and ineffectual, UN members favour the overhaul.
According to Jaishankar, the justice of the developing world is “decisively addressed.”
“It is also perceived as deeply unfair, denying entire continents and regions a voice in a forum that deliberates their future. India is prepared to take up greater responsibilities. But it seeks at the same time to ensure that the injustice faced by the Global South is decisively addressed,” Jaishankar said.
“Our call is to allow serious negotiations on such a critical matter to proceed sincerely. They must not be blocked by procedural tactics. Naysayers cannot hold the IGN process hostage in perpetuity. In these turbulent times, it is essential that the world listens to more voices of reason. and experiences more acts of goodwill. India is willing and able on both counts. We believe and advocate that this is not an era of war and conflict. On the contrary, it is a time for development and cooperation,” he added.
On September 16, China blocked a resolution that the US and India had sponsored at the UN to name Sajid Mir of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) as a “global terrorist.”
He is the most wanted terrorist in India and took part in the Mumbai attacks in 2008. The US proposed that India blacklist Mir as a foreign terrorist under the 1267 Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council.
After Abdul Rehman Makki, a leader of the LeT and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), and Abdul Rauf Azhar, the brother of Jaish-e Mohammed (JEM) founder Masood Azhar, were given protection by Beijing, China has now thwarted an India-US request three times in recent months.
Top opposition leaders gather at INLD rally to challenge ‘Delhi Sultanate’
Sharad Pawar, the head of the NCP, Nitish Kumar, the chief minister of Bihar, Sitaram Yechury, and Sukhbir Singh Badal, the leader of the Shiromani Akali Dal, were among the prominent opposition figures that attended the INLD’s large gathering on Sunday in Fatehabad, Haryana.
JDU leader KC Tyagi addressed the crowd and claimed that the Bihar CM has come from Patna to challenge the Delhi Sultanate at a time when eight former Congress CMs had switched to the BJP. He claimed that Kumar has no fear of the ED, the income tax, or any other organisations.
To commemorate the birth anniversary of Devi Lal, the founder of the INLD and a former deputy prime minister, a rally is being conducted.
Tejashwi Yadav, the deputy chief minister of Bihar and the head of the RJD, as well as Arvind Sawant of the Shiv Sena, also showed up at the gathering to demonstrate the unity of the opposition.
The coming together of so many regional satraps is seen as part of efforts to forge opposition unity. Kumar and RJD president Lalu Prasad are likely to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi after the rally to take the process forward.
Veteran socialist leader Tyagi had already declared that the gathering would be historic because it would unite like-minded forces against the BJP in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
‘Resort bulldozed to erase evidence?’: U’khand girl’s family
The family of Ankita Bhandari, a 19-year-old Uttarakhand receptionist, refused to cremate her body on Sunday, questioning the postmortem report and the government’s overnight action of bulldozing portions of the resort owned by the prime suspect, Pulkit Arya, the son of now-expelled BJP leader Vinod Arya. They claimed that this may have destroyed the evidence at the crime scene.
Ankita Bhandari allegedly rejected attempts by Pulkit Arya and two others to force her into prostitution, and as a result, she was killed. The woman’s body, who was reported missing on September 18, was found in Rishikesh’s Chilla canal on Saturday.
Her brother Ajay Singh Bhandari questioned the resort’s bulldozer activity, speculating that it might be an attempt to destroy evidence.
In the late evening on Friday in Pauri Garhwal, the district administration used a bulldozer to demolish the suspected unlawful construction of the Vanantara resort in Ganga Bhogpur Talla. The building was later set on fire and had its glass windows broken by a group of angry local residents on Saturday.
“I am not satisfied with the provisional postmortem report. Her last rites will not be performed until we get the final detailed report,” said Ankita’s father Virendra Singh Bhandari.
The woman’s funeral was slated to take place on Sunday morning. At the Srinagar Medical College, her body is on display. The family has also urged that the accused be given a speedy trial and executed.
According to the preliminary autopsy report, she had suffered blunt force injuries and drowned to death. Ante-mortem injuries were found on the body, according to the autopsy, which was performed by a team of four doctors from the department of forensic medicine and toxicology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Rishikesh.
“We are making efforts to persuade the family. They have some concerns about the post-mortem report. We are taking every step possible to support the family. However, some things like post-mortem are beyond our control,” said Pauri additional superintendent of police (ASP), Shekhar Chandra Suyal.
According to officials, the final post-mortem report is expected to be released on Monday.
The government’s bulldozer action to destroy the resort has also drawn criticism from the state unit of the Congress party.
Is the government destroying the evidence by ordering the bulldozer action at the resort? Police failed to secure the custody of the accused. The Dhami government’s intention is not pure,” said party’s state chief, Karan Mahara
6 officials charged for murder of the Air Force trainee Cadat, found hanging in Bengalore campus
A cadet trainee hanged himself on campus at the Air Force Technical College (AFTC) at Jalahalli, Bengaluru, on Wednesday, leading to the accusation of murder and up to six Air Force officers charged.
Ankit Kumar Jha, the cadet trainee, also wrote a note before his death in which he claimed that he had been harassed at the training facility.
According to DCP North, Vinayak Patil, “Cadet Trainee Ankit Kumar Jha from Air Force Technical College (AFTC) in Jalahalli was found dead on the campus on September 21.”
The deceased’s brother, Aman, filed a complaint at the Gangammagudi police station, claiming that the six officers were responsible for his brother’s murder.
The plaintiff claimed that he had been harassed during training by six officers: Cmde Sameer Khalode, Gp Capt GUM Rao, Gp Capt V Badrinath, Wing Cdr SS Huddar, Wing Cdr Ankit Sharma, and UTFO Tahira Rehman.
On the day he was discovered dead on campus, the victim’s employment with the institution was terminated. He then went missing, and his body was eventually discovered hanging from the camp.
A post-mortem has been requested for the body. For further inquiry, police are awaiting the results of the post-mortem.
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