Ram Setu: BJP demands apology from PM, Sonia

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New Delhi, Sept 17: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today demanded apology from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi for the government"s statement that some of Hinduism's most important texts were not proof of the existence of Hindu gods in an affidavit.

"They say they have accepted the mistake, but Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi have not apologized yet. Ambika Soni (Union Cultural Minister) and H.R. Bhardwaj (Union Law Minister) have not resigned yet. You cannot kill anyone and accept they have committed the mistake," said BJP leader Vijay Goel.

“This kind of treatment can be given to only to Hindu religion. If the same thing would have happened to Christians and Muslims then riot have broken out in the country. The government is doing all this (Amending affidavit before court) to appease Hindu voters," he added.

The row erupted after the Centre filed a statement before the Supreme Court on Wednesday on the Sethu Samundram ship lane project.

The government backtracked on the 'affidavit' next day and sought three months time from the apex court to file an amended one, following threats of nationwide protests by the BJP.

The Supreme Court Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balkrishnan allowed the withdrawal of affidavit, and posted the matter for next hearing in the first week of January 2008.

The apex Bench said that the August 31 interim order restraining any construction at the "Ram Sethu" or Adam's bridge area will continue.

The Centre cleared that there was no intention to cast aspersions on a religious faith or to divide the society.

Soni said on Saturday that she was prepared to resign over the matter if asked to by the Prime Minister or the party president.

The culture ministry has suspended a director and an assistant director at the Archaeological Survey of India, which prepared the affidavit, while it investigates what happened.

The minister said the officials had ignored some of the revisions she wanted made after seeing a draft of the affidavit.

The government filed the affidavit as it defends its plan to build a canal through a bridge-like stretch of sandbanks and rocks between the Indian coast and Sri Lanka.

The 560-million-dollar Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project is intended to shave up to 36 hours off ship journeys between India's western and eastern coasts. Conservationists say the project will kill marine life and harm fishermen's livelihoods.

The project has also sparked protests by other groups including conservationists and local fishermen, who say the dredging will mean dumping sediment in deeper water further out to sea.


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