New Delhi: The BJP on Wednesday accused the Congress-led UPA government of "blasphemy" by telling the Supreme Court that there was no historical evidence to establish the existence of Ram Setu in the epic Ramayana.
"This is sheer blasphemy," senior BJP leader Vijay Kumar Malhotra said reacting to an affidavit filed by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) rejecting the claim of the existence of the Ram Setu or Adam's bridge in the area where the Sethusamudram project was under construction.
"It's an insult to the Hindu faith. We also wonder why Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi have been going for the Dussehra festival if their government does not believe in Lord Ram's existence," he said.
The BJP and other constituents of the Sangh Parivar are opposing the Sethusamudram project saying it would damage an undersea bridge believed to be built by Lord Ram.
“Today, the government in its affidavit says there is no evidence to prove the bridge was built by Lord Rama or that Lord Ram ever existed. This is an attack on Hindu sentiments, a ferocious one,” Malhotra said.
Ram Setu, a historical monument?
Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists blocked rail and road traffic and clashed with police in many parts of the country on Wednesday morning, protesting the proposal for a navigational sea route between India and Sri Lanka that could damage Ram Setu.
The three-hour road blockade to protest the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal project threw traffic off gear in many parts of Mumbai, Delhi, north and north-west India. Schools were also closed in Indore in anticipation of violence.
But barring the arrest of 46 VHP supporters in Puducherry, there was hardly any protest across South India. However, BJP Leader ID Swami warned the UPA of dire consequences if they ignored these protests.
“This agitation is a warning to the UPA, if the Government doesn’t listen the results will be dangerous,” Swami said.
The Opposition says that project is not political but "Hindus are opposed to the demolition of Ram Setu.”
Earlier, General Secretary of VHP Orissa unit Gouri Prashad Rath had said that it was a mistake on part of the erstwhile NDA government to sanction the Sethusamudram project as it cannot be completed without demolishing the ancient Ram Setu.
The “sacred Setu” should not be touched as it is associated with sentiments of Hindus, he had said.
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BRIDGE OF CONTROVERSY
|Ram Setu is a mythical bridge southeast of Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu, connecting with the Talaimanar coast of Sri Lanka.|
|Hindu groups say the Rs 2087-Sethusamudram project, which will build a canal from the west coast of India to the east coast without going around Sri Lanka, will damage the Setu. Work on the project began in July 2005.|
|Hindu groups believe Lord Ram’s army built the Setu to cross over to Sri Lanka and rescue Sita. The Government says the Setu (bridge) is actually a natural, 30-km-long chain of sand banks.|
|The Supreme Court has restrained the government from causing any damage to the Setu.|
|The Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project will dredge a channel in a narrow strip of sea between India and Sri Lanka, reducing distances and cutting costs for freight traffic.|