Setu: rallies and SC hearing on 5 March 2008

  • Posted: Tue, Mar 4 2008. 10:39 PM IST

Verdict on Sethu Samudram project unlikely today

A key litigant is expected to ask the Supreme Court for more time to file a counter- affidavit

Priyanka P. Narain

Mumbai: No verdict is likely to emerge on the controversial Sethu Samudram project on Wednesday because a key litigant is expected to ask the Supreme Court for more time to file a counter- affidavit.

The controversial project involves dredging a channel through a walkway between India and Sri Lanka to reduce shipping times. A three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, is to decide whether to lift a stay order, issued in September, on work at the site of Adam’s Bridge, also known as Ram Sethu, as many Hindu groups believe it was built by Hindu god Ram.

As lawyers prepared their arguments on Tuesday, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) launched a nationwide rally that may continue throughout the week “to remind the state that this is a question of Hindu sentiments and you cannot ignore them,” said S. Vedantam, international vice-president of VHP.

Last week, the government filed its affadavit to the court, with only two of its 89 paragraphs addressing religion. The court had asked the affadavit to detail the bridge’s religious and cultural significance but, the government asked the court to take a decision based on the findings of a government-appointed “committee of eminent persons” that has conducted hearings on the matter.

Chief petitioner Subramanian Swamy said he plans to inform the court of his first reactions and ask the bench to dismiss the affidavit because it does not answer the court’s questions.

Before the case was transferred to the Supreme Court, the Madras high court had asked the government two questions about the project: Why was this channel alignment chosen among six alternatives? And has the ministry of culture conducted any research on the bridge’s cultural significance?

The Supreme Court upheld these questions when the case was transferred from the high court. Now, one withdrawn affidavit, four date extensions and seven months later, the government has still not responded, Swamy said. “The department of shipping has filed it when the Union government should have done that. It explains why this route was chosen in the context of the environment. But, when I raised that question (of alignment), I was looking for answers about its economics and national security implications,” he said. “They don’t even address the second question.”

Meanwhile, “we are preparing for a massive andolan (movement) if anyone attacks the Ram Sethu,” said VHP president, Ashok Singhal. “They have declared a war on Hindus and we will not stand by.”

VHP launches nationwide rallies to protect Ram Sethu

March 4th, 2008 – 4:50 pm

New Delhi, March 4 (IANS) The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Tuesday launched rallies all over the country demanding ‘monument of national importance’ status to Ram Sethu, popularly known as the Adam’s Bridge, a chain of limestone shoals the group believes dates back to the Ramayana. “These protest marches, spread over two days, are being organised all over the country on Tuesday and Wednesday. We are protesting the union government’s affidavit in the Supreme Court in which it denied the existence of Lord Ram and the Ram Sethu,” Rajendra Singh Pankaj, national secretary of the VHP, told IANS.

Around 2,000 members of VHP’s Delhi unit took out a procession on two-wheelers and around 80 four-wheelers here Tuesday morning. The procession, which started from Ramlila grounds, culminated at Rajghat.

The gathering was addressed by office-holders of the Rameshwaram Ramsethu Raksha Manch, comprising mainly of VHP members.

“We demand an apology from the union government for giving the affidavit in the Supreme Court denying the existence of Ram. We want Ram Sethu to be declared a monument of national importance,” Pankaj said.

The Adam’s Bridge comes in the way of the controversial Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project, which proposes linking of the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka through a shipping channel.

The Hindu group opposes the project because the Ram Sethu, which they argue is sacred as it was built by Lord Ram to cross the sea to kill Ravana, would have to be drilled.

The issue is high on the Bharatiya Janata Party agenda for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

BJP, VHP accuse Centre of playing with sentiments of Hindus on Ram Sethu

Express news service

Posted online: Wednesday, March 05, 2008 at 2335 hrs IST

Surat, March 4

Leaders of the BJP and VHP on Tuesday accused the UPA government at the Centre of playing with the religious feelings of crores of Hindus in the country by supporting the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project.

Scores of leaders, under the banner of Rameshwaram Ramsethu Raksha Manch, took out a motorcycle rally in the morning to mark their protest against the project.

“The Ministry of Shipping with the UPA government will file an affidavit related to the Ram Sethu bridge in the Supreme Court on Wednesday. The Centre is playing with the religious feelings of crores of Hindus. With this rally, we wanted to show the UPA that Hindus in India will not sit silently on the issue, and if needed, we will organise programmes all over the country,” said Durlabh Bhalara, the event organiser.

Utakarsh Patel, VHP general secretary, said, “We will not tolerate such act of the UPA government. The Ram Sethu bridge has religious importance to crores of Hindus in the country. The VHP activists and leaders are ready to give their blood to save the bridge built by Lord Rama. We are awaiting the details of the affidavit and we will decide our future course of action accordingly.”

The rally started from Surat Railway Station and culminated at Nanpura near Tapi River banks in the afternoon. It crossed Mahidharpura, Bhagal and Chowk Bazaar areas. Among those who participated in it were Surat city BJP president Praveen Naik, VHP president Kalu Bhimnath and leader Dinesh Navadia.


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