During the tenure of UPA I, the Congress party demonstrated its anti-Hindu stance through its affidavit to the Supreme Court regarding the Ram Setu case. The UPA government informed the Supreme Court using that affidavit that there was no historical evidence supporting Lord Ram’s existence or that of any of the other characters in the Ramayana.
In the affidavit filed by UPA I before the Supreme Court in 2007, it was brazenly stated that the Ram Setu was the outcome of naturally occurring formations “caused by tidal action and sedimentation”. Based on the premise of corralling theory which would indicate that the Ram Setu was not a manmade structure, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) submitted before the Apex Court that Ram Setu could not be considered a historical or archaeological monument and for the same reason unworthy to be declared as a protected monument.
This Freudian slip of the UPA Government had to face public wrath throughout India and the Government had to withdrew the affidavit. Reportedly, there were at least three clauses in the affidavit that the Ministry of Culture suggested be removed; only two of these clauses were removed. In one of the clauses that remained unremoved, it was alleged that the Ramayana was not historically accurate, a claim that soon came under fire.
Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in its affidavit filed on behalf of the UPA Government has stated as
quoted below ;
“The petitioner while seeking relief have primarily relied upon the contents of the Valimiki Ramayana, the Ram Charit Manas by Tulsidas and mythological texts, which formed an important part of ancient Indian literature, but which cannot be said to be historical records to incontrovertibly prove the existence of the characters or the occurrence of the event, depicted therein.” Whereas it is submitted that the ASI is aware of and duly respects the deep religious import bestowed upon these texts by the Hindu community across the globe, it is also submitted that the study of human history, which is the primary object of the ASI, like other sciences and fields of study, must be carried out in a scientific manner using available technological aids, and its findings must be based on tangible material evidence.” In terms of the Ramayana, the statement asserted that there was no “historical record” that could unquestionably prove the character’s existence or the events described in it.
The NDA Government in 2018 informed the Supreme Court that, in the “interest of the nation,” it will not harm the mythical Ram Setu for its Sethusamudram Ship Channel project
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), while claiming that the study of human history being the primary object of the ASI, be carried out in a scientific manner, vehemently argued through the affidavit that “the Ramcharitmanas by Tulsidas, the Valmiki Ramayana, and other mythological texts, which admittedly form an ancient part of Indian literature, cannot be claimed to be historical records that prove incontrovertibly the characters and events depicted therein existed or occurred.”
Apart from the blatant denial of historicity of the Ramayana, a closer look at the affidavit filed by the UPA Government would reveal that through the affidavit strenuous efforts have been made to relegate Lord Ram’s stature to that of ‘a character’ only. Further, the sacred texts of Valmiki Ramayana and the Ramacharitmanas by Tulsidas were deliberately labelled on par with ‘other mythological texts forming important part of
ancient Indian literature’.
Despite the anti-Hindu bravado of the UPA Government, it received a mortal blow from the honourable Supreme Court in 2019 disputed Babri structure case, wherein the honorable Apex Court declared in its 1045-page judgement beyond any shadow of doubt that ‘’Religious scriptures, which are main source of Hinduism are the foundation on which faith of Hindus is concretised. The epic Valmiki Ramayana is the main source of knowledge of Lord Ram and his deeds…’’ The bench further said that the epic Valmiki’s Ramayana, whose composition dated back to the period Before Christ (BC), was the main source of knowledge of Lord Ram and his deeds. The bench also noted that a witness has referred to Tulsidas Ramcharitmanas as another religious scripture to prove that the disputed site was the birthplace of Lord Ram.
As we know, 2014 was a watershed moment for Indian democracy and it was end of the road for the corrupt and the seekers of Bhagwan Ram’s Engineering degree. Inevitably, the NDA Government took a fair decision on the Ram Setu issue based deep respect for Indian heritage and Hindu culture. The Modi Government faithfully fulfilled its 2014 election manifesto promises through a new affidavit affirming Hindutva values. The NDA Government in 2018 informed the Supreme Court that, in the “interest of the nation,” it will not harm the mythical Ram Setu for its Sethusamudram Ship Channel project. The Union Ministry of Shipping, in its affidavit, told a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that the Public interest Litigation filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy against the Sethusamudram project can now be disposed off by taking note of its stand That the government of India intends to explore an alternative to the earlier alignment of Sethusamudram Ship Channel project without affecting/damaging the Ram Setu in the Interest of the nation,” the affidavit filed by the ministry stated.
It was also clearly stated that dredging Rama Setu, situated between the southern coast of Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, will have socio-economic disadvantages and it would not be in the interest of the nation and hence the Government did not want to implement the said alignment. “Ram Setu is a part of our cultural heritage and also of strategic importance due to its vast thorium deposits. These facts will be taken into consideration while taking any decision on ‘Sethusamudram Channel’ Project,” the affidavit stated.
It is pertinent to mention that this affidavit filed by the NDA Government. assumes utmost relevance in the backdrop of a research-based programme in the Discovery Science channel which corroborated that the Ram Setu is man-made structure and not the outcome of naturally occurring formations “caused by tidal action and sedimentation”as vehemently argued by the UPA Government. In furtherance of the question as to whether Ram Setu can be historically and scientifically established, such research-based investigations are a welcome step. The central advisory board on archaeology, which functions under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has approved a proposal for an underwater exploration project. The study will be conducted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa. It will focus on the process behind Ram Setu’s formation and also whether there are any submerged habitations around the structure.
It may also be noted that another vital aspect of the issue before the Supreme Court is to determine whether the belief about Ram Sethu is genuinely or conscientiously held over a period of time by Hindus so as to fall within the purview of the freedom of religion guaranteed by Article 25 of the Constitution of India and whether the destruction of Ram Sethu for the Sethusamudram project would violate such a right of Hindus to worship at Ram Sethu. The legal battle goes on. However, no one can lose sight of the fact that the honourable Supreme Court could settle the disputed Babri Masjid case in a historic verdict wherein the honourable court backed the construction of a Ram temple by a government trust at the disputed site in Ayodhya considering “religious scriptures, which are main source of Hinduism as the foundation on which faith of Hindus is concretised and the epic Valmiki’s Ramayana, as the main source of knowledge of Lord Ram and his deeds”.