Alok Kumar, International Working president of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and senior Supreme Court lawyer, is a staunch Rashtriya Swaymsevak Sangh (RSS) man who completed his LLB from Delhi University and became the first directly elected president of the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU).

He was RSS pracharak for six years and led the underground movement during the Emergency. After the demolition of the Babari Mosque when the RSS was banned, he contested the Sangh’s case before the tribunal. Kumar, who was Deputy Speaker of the Delhi Assembly from 1993 to 1995, has also worked for BJP in various capacities.

In an interview with RAMAN PANDIT, Alok Kumar spoke on various issues related to the Ayodhya verdict and other issues.

Excerpts:

Q: What was your first reaction to the Ayodhya judgment?

A: We are very happy with the judgment. Our happiness cannot be described in words. I remember my father and grandfather, both of whom had participated in the Ram temple movement. I feel that Hindus today are satisfied with the judgment. Twenty-four generations fought for it, many died and they kept the issue alive but could not take it to a conclusion. Our generation (25th generation) has had the good fortune. We are not only witnessing history but also participating in it.

Q: After the judgment, AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi said this is a victory of faith over facts. Your comments?

A: I normally don’t like to respond to Owaisi. He is a master at giving responses which get him into the media limelight. He makes the most irresponsible statements. Five senior-most judges of the Supreme Court heard the case for 40 days and reached a unanimous conclusion. There are aspects which Muslims may not like; there are aspects which Hindus do not like, but when the judgment is delivered and if you believe in rule of law, it should be respected and obeyed. Owaisi must remember that when he became Member of Parliament, he also took an oath swearing allegiance to the Constitution.

Q: Would VHP like to head the SCmandated trust for the construction of the Ram temple?

A: The Supreme Court has entrusted the task of formation of a trust to the Central government. The government shall form the trust or may give it to an existing trust. The Supreme Court has also directed that the Nirmohi Akhara be given representation in it. Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas is endeavouring to construct the temple. Nyas workshop already has sixty per cent of the pillars of the proposed temple, ready after carving. But we are not party to it. The VHP will not make the temple, the trust will. The VHP has not suggested the name of any trustee to the government as yet. We are neither collecting any money for it nor making any arrangement for worship. Whosoever does it, we will keep a watch to ensure construction (of temple) is not further delayed.

Q: Who will fund construction of the temple?

A: When Somnath temple was being constructed, Sardar Patel and K M Munshi went to Mahatma Gandhi with their proposal. Gandhi blessed the move but suggested that the funds for the construction should be collected from the devotees and the temple should not be funded by the state. The same principle should be applied here, and we are confident that will happen.

Q: The apex court has ordered allotment of five acres land for the construction of a mosque at a prominent place in Ayodhya.Will VHP agree if land is allotted from the acquired land?

A: If both temple and mosque are constructed in close vicinity of each other, under the present circumstances it may give rise to a perpetual law and order problem. Therefore, Supreme Court, in its wisdom, has said that give the land in Ayodhya. It is my feeling that for amicable relations between Hindus and Muslims, the mosque should be constructed at a safe distance.

Q: What is your position on Kashi and Mathura now?

A: I think the task of construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya has not been completed with the decision of the Supreme Court; it has just started. We want a grand temple in Ayodhya so our complete focus is on that now.

Q: But what is your position?

A: Our focus is completely towards Ram temple.

Q: It means you don’t want to touch these issues?

A: No matter how many times you ask, my answer will remain the same, we are now focusing on Ram temple.

Q: Once the VHP, which started the Ram temple movement,used to be a thriving force but now BJP has overshadowed it . Do you agree?

A: I don’t think so. You people give more importance to political news than other things. The VHP has been running Ekal Vidyalayas in more than one lakh villages across the country. We are also doing community service. We used to get media space due to the movement but now we have shifted our focus towards constructive work. Our organisation is expanding and gaining strength day by day.

Q: Is it that after the exit of Praveen Togadia,Prime Minister Narendra Modi has tightened his control on VHP?

A: I am happy that after the exit of Togadia, no VHP leader has given any irresponsible statement.

Q: What is your stand on the National Register of Citizens?

A: For me, the NRC is a register which will have the names of all the citizens of India. This kind of mechanism is present in many countries. Intruders must be identified and deported to their respective countries. No one should have a problem with this. The Union Home Minister has assured Parliament that religion is not a criterion for NRC and all citizens of India, irrespective of religion, will be included in that list. We have been demanding implementation of NRC across the country for years and hoping that this government will do it at the earliest.

Q: In a democracy like ours, is it right to grant citizenship on religious lines as the Citizenship Amendment Bill proposes?

A: This is a right step. The population of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh has been declining rapidly since 1947. There is no protection for life of Hindus and honour of their women in these countries and they come to India to protect their life and honour. Therefore, they are not intruders but refugees. Hindus must get asylum in India if they are persecuted anywhere in the world. And for me Hindu means Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Parsis. Though the Bill proposes citizenship to those who has been residing in India for six years, we are of the opinion that this time period be reduced to one year and this should not be confined to three countries but across the world.

Q: In the past, the country has witnessed several communal riots. Will the Ayodhya verdict end this cycle and lead to communal harmony in the country?

A: Yes, it should. Ram is ancestor of all and Imam-e-Hind. Ayodhya means where there is no conflict. The fundamentalists in Muslim society are on the back foot now as Muslims, in general, are raising their voice against the idea of filling a review petition. After the settlement of this dispute, it is a great opportunity to begin dialogue between two communities to enhance amicability.