The Ram Sethu Raksha Mahasammelan held on December 30, 2007, refreshed the memories of Ramjanmabhoomi movement. After the historic rally of 1991 held at Boat Club for Ram temple, it was for the first time that Delhi witnessed such a huge gathering. Over ten lakh Rambhaktas assembled at Swarna Jayanti Park of Rohini in West Delhi under the banner of Rameswaram Ram Sethu Raksha Manch to warn the UPA government against destruction of Ram Sethu. The protestors served an ultimatum to the government that if it files an affidavit against the sentiments of 90 crore Hindus on January 16 in the Supreme Court, the battle would be fought in every village of the country. They, through a resolution, also reiterated their demand of scrapping the Sethusamudram project, to declare the Ram Sethu a national protected heritage site and develop Rameswaram as a holy pilgrimage town.
Though it was the coldest day of this season in Delhi with mercury dipping to 3 Degree Celsius, the Rambhaktas had started marching to the Swarna Jayanti Park since early morning. Most of them were those who had come from the far-flung states by trains and had stayed at different temples, dharamshalas, schools, baratghars of Delhi. The VHP had booked more than 1,000 temples, 70 schools, 250 community centres and 50 dharamshalas for them. Those who had come from the neighbouring states had come on the same day. By 10 am, more than four lakh people had assembled at the Park.
The rally, which saw a galaxy of leaders from all sections of the society, had three huge platforms displaying the slogans in bold letter?-?Santon ka hai yeh sandesh, Ram ka Sethu, Ram ka desh?, Ram Sethu bachayenge, apana dharma nibhayenge, declare Ram Sethu a national protected heritage site and recognise Ram and Krishna as historical figures. The main dais had senior saints and VHP leaders who addressed the rally. The second dais had saints belonging to various sections of the society and the third platform had leaders belonging to various political and social organisations and Chief Ministers of Rajasthan (Smt. Vasundhara Raje), Madhya Pradesh (Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan), Chhattisgarh (Dr Raman Singh), Uttarakhand (Shri B.C. Khanduri) and Himachal Pradesh (Prof. Prem Kumar Dhumal). Shankaracharya Swami Vasudevananda Saraswati presided over the Mahasammelan.
RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri K.S. Sudarshan, VHP president Shri Ashok Singhal, general secretary Dr Pravin Togadia, Ramjanmabhoomi Trust president Mahant Nrityagopal Das, Dr Ram Vilas Vedanti, Ramanandacharya Swami Rambhadracharya, Sadhvi Ritambhara, Shankaracharya Swami Divyananda Maharaj, Jain saint Shri Vijay Ratnasunder Surishwar, Buddhist monk Shri Bhante Janan Jagat, Pejawar Swami Shri Vishveshteertha Maharaj, Acharya Dharmendra, Swami Chidanand Muni, Mahant Naval Kishor Das and Mahant Adityanath were also present. BJP president Shri Rajnath Singh, senior party leaders Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, Shri Arun Jaitley, Smt. Sushma Swaraj, Shri Arjun Munda, Shri Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Shri Kidarnath Sahani, Shri Ramlal, Shri Vinay Katiyar, Shri Gopinath Munde and Janata Party president Dr Subramanian Swamy were also present.
The messages sent by AIADMK supremo Smt. J. Jayalalithaa, Punjab Chief Minister Shri Prakash Singh Badal, Dwarika Peethadhishwar Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopananda, Mata Amritanandamayi, Shringeripeetha-dhishwar Shankaracharya Shri Bharati Teerth, former Prime Minister Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee and Namdhari Sant Baba Jagjit Singh, endorsing the demand of protecting the Ram Sethu boosted the morale of the rallyists.
It appeared as if all the roads of Delhi led to Swaran Jayanti Park on that day. Though it was Sunday, all the roads leading to the Park were jammed with Rambhaktas carrying saffron flags, raising slogans like ?Jai Shri Ram, Bachcha-bachcha Ram ka, Ram Sethu ke kaam ka? and saffron strips tied on their foreheads. The movement of Rambhaktas continued overnight on December 29 in the streets of Delhi. Those who had come by trains walked their destination beating the cold by raising slogans. After the rally also some of them walked back to railway stations from the venue. ?We enjoyed the walk. Since it is our maiden visit to Delhi we wished to see Delhi also,? said Kashiram along with his friends who had come from Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh. Similar views were expressed by Akshya Jaiswal from Mumbai and Radhelal from Hingoli district of Maharashtra.
The message of the rally was clear?Ram Sethu ke liye ham kaal se bhi takara jayenge (We are ready to face even the death for Ram Sethu), which should open the eyes of the ruling coalition at the Centre. ?Over ten lakh people came to Delhi and went back as peacefully as they had come. Not even a single unwanted incident was reported from anywhere. The rally had representations from all languages and regions of the country including all states, from Kerala to Jammu & Kashmir and from Gujarat to the north-east. There was representations from all revenue districts. Leaders of all religious sects including Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Nirankaris, Nihangas and Namdharis were present on the dais,? said the overwhelmed joint secretary general of VHP Shri Champatrai standing behind the main dais.
By noon, the number of Rambhaktas inside the Park, were on the way or were stuck outside and inside Delhi as the Police had stopped their vehicles. According to VHP general secretary Dr Pravin Togadia more than 800 buses were stuck at different parts of Delhi and could not reach the venue. Some managed to reach the venue at 5 pm after the completion of the rally. Those who somehow entered into Delhi faced the problem of heavy traffic jam. Then they turned to the Metro Rail, which too soon became overcrowded. Later, the DMRC increased the frequency of trains and also deployed three more racks. Many of those who had come to Delhi for the first time also had a joyride in Metro Rail. According to the DMRC, more than 4.15 lakh people travelled by Metro Rail that day increasing additional revenue worth Rs 10 lakh. ?Till 8 p.m. on December 30, we recorded 60,000 footfalls more than on an average Sunday on the Shahadara-Rithala line. Our revenue earning too was much higher today with total sale of tickets being Rs 10 lakh higher. We usually sell tickets worth Rs 42 lakh but on Sunday we had already earned Rs 52 lakh by 8 pm,? said DMRC spokesperson Shri Anuj Dayal. There were apprehensions that the Rambhaktas might damage the Metro Rail property. But not a single untoward incident was reported and everybody travelled only after taking the required ticket.
It was not easy to hold such a huge rally in Delhi in the biting chilly winter of December. The people of Delhi supported it wholeheartedly. About nine lakh food packets were collected from 4.5 lakh families. ?It was the outcome of just one month preparations. The saints had taken the decision to organise this rally at their meeting in Ayodhya on November 13. The first all India meeting of Ram Sethu Raksha Manch was held on November 27. In fact, the preparations for the rally began from that day. The first problem was to decide the venue for such a huge crowed. Organisation of rallies at Boat Club is already banned. The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and the Ramlila Grounds were short and the Burari Grounds was preoccupied. Then the venue of Swarna Jayanti Park was decided on December 20. Only within ten days all the preparations were made by over 10,000 workers,? informed Shri Karuna Prakash, prant organising secretary of Indraprastha VHP.
He said the Ram Sethu Shilapujan mobilised people for the rally. Besides more than one lakh people from Delhi, about 30,000 from Punjab, one lakh from Haryana, one lakh from Rajasthan, one lakh from Uttar Pradesh, 250 vehicles from J&K, about 10,000 people from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh who came mostly by trains, about 80,000 from Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, about 50,000 from Maharashtra, 5000 from Gujarat, 20,000 from Bihar and Jharkhand, 1000 each from Assam and West Bengal and 3000 from Orissa attended the rally.
Addressing the gathering, Shri K.S. Sudarshan warned the government that the people of the country would not tolerate any damage to Ram Sethu. He asked Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh not to succumb to the pressure from the UPA ally, the DMK, to go ahead with the project. ?Government will face the consequences if it does not scrap the project,? he said adding that the Prime Minister should not think about the survival of his government. ?If he scraps the project, he will get good wishes from crores of Hindus worldwide.? Urging the Rambhaktas to take the responsibility of protecting the historic landmark, he explained the non-viability of the project and said not only the Hindus, but Muslims and Christians also oppose the project.
Shri Ashok Singhal said those who are bent upon destroying the Sethu have no right to stay in the country. He appealed to the rallyists to take the message of saints to all corners of the country. He also appealed to all the political parties to come forward in support of the Ram Sehtu irrespective of their vote bank, caste, region, language and political parties and also support the reconstruction of Shri Ram temple in Ayodhya.
Dr Pravin Togadia said if the UPA government does not declare Ram Sethu a protected historical heritage, the battle would be fought in 6.5 lakh villages of the country. He said every village of the country would be turned Rammaya during the Chaitra Navaratras when crores of people would chant Vijay Mantra of Sri Ram Jai Ram, Jai-Jai Ram.
Presiding over the rally, Sawmi Vasudevananda Saraswati appealed to political leaders of all parties to pressurise the government not to demolish the Sethu. Sadhvi Ritambhara administered the oath to the Rambhaktas to be ready to face even the death for the protection of Ram Sethu. The Rambhaktas responded to her call by raising their hands in unison. Mahant Nrityagopal Das appealed to the Rambhaktas to move to Ayodhya also in the similar huge strength for reconstruction of Ram Mandir. Swami Rambhadracharya said by destroying the Sethu the government wishes to push the whole nation into the mouth of pralaya. Pejawar Swami Shri Vishveshteerth, Jain saint Shri Vijay Ratnasunder Surishwar and Buddhist monk Shri Bhante Jnan Jagat also appealed to save the Ram Sethu. Shri Chaitanya Maharaj warned if even a single brick of the Sethu was touched, the government would not be able to protect the disputed structures of Kashi and Mathura. Swami Chidanand Muni said the government must declare the Sethu a national protected heritage site before January 16. Dr Ram Vilas Vedanti, Swami Prapannacharya, Swami Raghva-charya, Shri Gopal Baba, Swami Vivekananda Maharaj, Shankara-charya Divyananda Maharaj, Shri Chaitanya Maharaj, Swami Jananananda, Acharya Dharmendra, Mahant Naval Kishor Das, Shri Surajnath Maharaj and Mahamandaleshwar Shri Vishoka-nanda also spoke on the occasion.