regular-article-logo Wednesday, 17 April 2024

‘Apologise or move out’: Mani Shankar Aiyar, daughter threatened over protest fast on Ayodhya

The vigilante move found support from the BJP, with BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya calling it 'a message for everyone'

Pheroze L. Vincent New Delhi Published 01.02.24, 05:42 AM
(Left) Mani Shankar Aiyar and Suranya Aiyar

(Left) Mani Shankar Aiyar and Suranya Aiyar PTI pictures

A homeowner’s body in an upscale South Delhi neighbourhood has asked a former Congress minister and his daughter to apologise for her fasting at home against the triumphalism that accompanied the inauguration of Ayodhya’s Ram temple, or “move out”.

The vigilante move found support from the BJP, with BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya calling it “a message for everyone”.


The woman in question — lawyer Suranya Aiyar, the daughter of former Union minister Mani Shankar Aiyar — told The Telegraph: “I don’t live there and do not own or rent any property there. I have not received this from the issuing party and only heard about it from reporters.”

On January 19, she posted the following on her Facebook account: “With the forthcoming event in Ayodhya on January 22, the atmosphere here in Delhi, already famous for being polluted in a material sense, has thickened to a spiritually poisonous and unbreathable concentrate of Hindu chauvinism, malice and bullying. I am deeply anguished by all this as an Indian and as a Hindu. And after thinking hard about what I can do, I have decided to go on a fast starting Saturday the 20th and ending on Tuesday the 23rd a day after the January 22nd production at Ayodhya.

“I am doing this first and foremost as an expression of my love and sorrow to my Muslim fellow citizens of India. I cannot let this moment pass without saying as loud as I can to my Muslim brothers and sisters that I love you and that I condemn and repudiate what is being done in the name of Hinduism and nationalism in Ayodhya.”

Aiyar’s fears weren’t unfounded. Several communal incidents took place across India during processions to celebrate the temple, despite the Prime Minister saying in his speech at the inauguration: “This occasion is not only about victory but also about humility for us.”

She added in the post: “Look at what has happened in Manipur when old antagonisms were provoked. There is no justification for stoking such deep and lasting social turmoil for the sake of destroying a few mosques. It never ends. You heard what the Karnataka BJP MP said about wanting to demolish mosques in Karnataka. Why can’t we simply say that we have better things to do than to endlessly fight over mosques and build temples?

“If there was cause for revenge in building this temple then how is such a motivation justified in Hinduism?.. So for all these reasons I call what is happening in Ayodhya on January 22nd a lie, a celebration of wickedness, a desecration of Hinduism, and an affront to our civilisational heritage. I am fasting as an act of protest and sorrow.”

On the day she began her fast inside her home in another neighbourhood, Delhi police tweeted an advisory against hooliganism, violation of traffic and sound regulations, and unauthorised rallies during the celebrations.

On Sunday, the Jangpura Extension Welfare Association’s president, Kapil Kakkar, said in a letter addressed to both father and daughter: “A Hate speech and act by a resident like you Ms Aiyar for announcing a 3 day fast in a peace loving locality where mostly resident’s inhabitating here came from Pakistan after losing all their wealth and fortune is highly unfortunate.” (sic)

Kakkar added: “And my request to Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar is to condemn the act of your daughter Ms. Suranya Ayar, which RWA will highly appreciate, since already mentioned above as it’s not in good taste for the colony and the society as a whole.

“In case you still think, what you have done in protesting against the consecration of Ram mandir at Ayodhya, we would suggest you to kindly move out to another colony, where people and RWA’s can turn blind eye to such hatred.” (sic)

Calls and messages from this paper to the former minister did not get a response. The address in the letter is mentioned among his assets in his 2014 election affidavit.

Amit Malviya tweeted a copy of the letter, saying: “This should serve as a message for everyone, who think abusing Hindu beliefs is par for the course.” No other party has publicly reacted to this.

Kakkar told this paper that he sent the letter by registered post.

“As per our information the family is staying there,” he said. When asked what authority he had to demand any resident’s eviction, Kakkar said: “We have asked them to apologise. If not, we have requested them to move out to a place where such rants are acceptable. It is not an eviction notice but a request.”

Suranya Aiyar posted on Facebook on Wednesday: “I have decided for the moment not to speak to the media as right now the media in India is only spreading toxicity and confusion. You all know me. I have studied, worked and done activism with people of all political backgrounds for nearly half a century now in India. So I leave my work here on my Facebook and YouTube pages for you to think for yourselves.”

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