WOULD IT BE POSSIBLE TO DECLARE ADAM’S BRIDGE A NATIONAL MONUMENT?

The Central Government filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court on 16th September 2013 stating that there was no need either for a study of Adam’s Bridge by the Archaeological Survey of India or for the declaration of Adam’s Bridge a national monument. Further, the Central Government sought the permission of the Supreme Court to implement the Sethu Samudram Project through the original alignment No.6 cutting across the Adam’s Bridge.

Dr.Kalaignar M.Karunanidhi, the DMK President, welcomed the stand taken by the Central Government and also expressed his happiness and hope that the Supreme Court would soon deliver the right judgment.

Ms. Jayalalitha and the Hindu fundamentalists do not know the fact that already about 120 years back a German Professor by name Dr.Johannas Walther from Jeena University visited Adam’s Bridge and carried out extensive research works there.

Therefore, Ms.Jayalalitha in her affidavit filed in the Supreme Court has stated: “Ram Sethu is an ancient monument. As Ram Sethu was built 17 lakh and 50 thousand years ago, it should be declared a national monument. There is no need for evidence for this. Faith alone is evidence for this.” (Namathu M.G.R. 15.09.2007 and 23.09.2007)

Subramanian Swamy, Dandi Swamy Vithyananda Bharathi, Rama Gopalan and some others from BJP and RSS also filed similar affidavits in the Supreme Court. Admitting these petitions, on 31st August 2007 the Supreme Court stayed any further works in the Adam’s Bridge area.

It was only during the British rule in India, Acts related to the ancient monuments were passed, first in Bengal in 1810 and in Madras in 1817. Then in 1904, The Ancient Monuments Preservation Act was promulgated.

After Independence, taking into consideration of all the Acts passed during the British rule, the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological sites and Remains Act was enacted in 1958. The section 2(a) in that Act defines the meaning of ancient monuments. It may be construed that the section 2(a) of the 1958 Act lays down the  norms for the declaration of any structure a national monument. According to the Section 2 (a) of the 1958 Act,

“Ancient Monument means any structure, erection or monument, or any tumulus or place of interment, or any cave, rock-sculpture,  inscription or monolith  which is of historical, archaeological or artistic interest and which has been in existence for not less than 100 years and includes –

i)     remains of an ancient monument

ii)    site of an ancient monument

iii)    such portion of land adjoining the site of an ancient monument as may be required for fencing or covering in or otherwise preserving  such monument, and

iv)    The means of access to, and convenient inspection of, an ancient monument”

Now, the question is this: Whether these regulations would permit the declaration of Adam’s Bridge a national monument?

1. According to the regulations, only a permanent structure could be declared a national monument. Following these regulations only, the Archaeological Survey of India has declared permanent structures like the Big Temple at Thanjavur, and the rock sculptures at Mamallapuram as national monuments.

But the Adam’s Bridge is not a permanent structure. The Hindu fundamentalists call the sand dunes in various sizes in the sea, stretching from Dhanuskodi to Talaimannar as Ram Sethu. According to Dr. Johnnes Walther, the sand dunes are formed due to the streaming relationships of the Indian Oceans and the influence of the monsoon on the superficial   sediments of the sea, plus negative beach pushing. The whole phenomenon is depending on only a change of the sea level.

When the sea level raises the sand dunes dissolve and sink into the sea and when the sea level subsides, the process of sedimentation of sand starts and forms into a number of dunes in various shapes. In short, the Adam’s Bridge is a constantly changing structure, which is repeatedly constructed and destroyed by the natural process. (The Adam’s Bridge and the Coral reef of the Palk Strait – p.40).

Therefore, the sand dunes, called Ram Sethu, are not permanent structures. Those sand dunes appear and disappear like bubbles. It would not be possible to declare the bubble as a national monument. Likewise, the sand dunes, which are not permanent structures, could not also be declared national monument.

2. According to 1958 Act, any structure, which has been in existence for not less than 100 years alone can be declared national monument.

The life of the sand dunes called Ram Sethu is very short. As it has already been mentioned, new sand dunes emerge in new places and in new shapes after the disappearance of the old sand dunes. Those new sand dunes also disappear in a few days giving place to further new sand dunes in new places. As the sand dunes appear and disappear very often, their span of life lasts only for a few days or few months. So, they are not 100 years old. Therefore, as per 1958 Act, those sand dunes can not be declared a national monument.

3. According to 1958 Act, any structure proposed for declaration as national monument should be convenient for fencing and inspection and also easily accessible.

It is a known fact that the structures, which are declared national monuments by the central and state archaeological departments are adequately  fenced and easily accessible to the public and the research scholars.

But, is it possible to fence in the sea around the sand dunes, of which some are above and some are below the sea level? Further, those sand dunes consist mostly of loose sands resembling marshy land which are very dangerous to set foot on them. How could it be convenient under these conditions for the public and the research scholars to visit the sand dunes? How many people so far have visited Ram Sethu to perform pooja? Why others? Has even Jayalalitha, who is making a loud noise over Ram Sethu for the past six years, ever visited Ram Sethu to perform pooja there? No. The reason is that she knows well that it is a very dangerous place to visit.

Therefore , the guidelines of the 1958 Act do not permit Ram Sethu, a place which is not convenient for fencing, inspection and easily accessible, to be declared a national monument. “So what? If Act does not permit, the religious faith would permit,” is the stand of Ms. Jayalalitha and the Hindu fundamentalists. They advance three kind of arguments to support their demand to declare Ram Sethu a national monument. They are:

1. They cite the Ramayana story written in all Indian languagas in which the construction of Ram Sethu by Hanuman and his monkey brigade under the instruction of Rama is depicted. If this is to be accepted as a historical fact, then they should also accept the information that Lord Rama, on his return journey from Lanka, along with his wife Sita in a special Puspak plane, cut Ram Sethu with his bow in three places and made way for the easy passage of ships also as a  fact. (Kamban’s Ramayana – Yuthakandam, Mitcheppatalam – verse No.171) But they refuse to accept this.

Eminent persons from Nehru and Rajaji to historians RomillaThapar and Sathyanatha Iyer have categorically stated: “Ramayana is a myth; there is no historical truth in the epic! National poet Bharathi, in one of his miscellaneous poems “Uyir Petra Tamizhar”, has also declared that there is no truth in the Ramayana story.

The debate on the Adam’s Bridge whether it is a natural formation or man made – is raging the country for about six years only. But, Dr.Johnnes Walther undertook the research on the Adams’s Bridge, in 1891, when there was no compulsion or political pressure to find out the truth about the construction and distruction of the Adam’s Bridge.

As a result of onthe spot study and a strenuous research, Dr.Walther has stated: “The Adam’s Bridge is not man made and it is constructed and destroyed by the natural process.” Further, he declared that “the narration of the Indian epic appears to us as a pious fairy tale.”  (The Adam’s Bridge and the Coral reefs of the Palk Strait – p.40)

On 11th September 2007 the Archaeological Survey of  India (ASI) submitted a petition in the Supreme Court stating that “there is no evidence to prove that Adam’s Bridge was man made; the characters in the Ramayana story are mythological;  and there is no historical truth in the incidents depicted in Ramayana.” As the Hindu fundamentalists raised hue and cry against this, the ASI withdraw its petition next day. But it may be noted that the ASI had withdrawn its petition only and not its opinion about Ramayana.

2. Next, Ms. Jayalalitha and the Hindu fundamentalists show the pictures taken with the help of a satellite by National Aeronautics and Space Administration -NASA. In these pictures, the sand dunes in the sea stretching from Dhanuskodi to Talaimanner could be seen. The Hindu fundamentalists call them Ram Sethu.

Marckhess, one of the officials of NASA has commented on this. He accepted that those pictures were provided by their organization. But he refused the explanations given to the pictures as theirs. Further,  he said that it would not be possible to decide the formation of the structure, either as  manmade or natural, and also to determine the age of the structure, with the help of the pictures. (Frontline, 5 October 2007).

3. “Lord Rama was the incarnation of God. He built Ram Sethu. Evidence is not required for this. Faith alone is the evidence for this.” argues Ms. Jayalalitha dogmatically. How could it be possible for the court to decide a case without any evidence? The Indian Evidence Act of 1872 is still in force emphasizing the importance of evidence.

We come across an information even in Purana emphasizing the importance of evidence. When a case filed by Lord Siva, in the disguise of a Brahmin, came up for hearing, the jurists asked him to produce evidence in support of his case. It is reported that Lord Siva submitted evidences accordingly. (PeriyaPuranam, Taduthat Konda Puranam verse No. 202). What is applicable to Lord Siva, should also be applicable to Ms. Jayalalitha. But she adamantly refuses.

Is there any precedent  for any court in India taking up cases on the basis of faith?

Very often we see in the news papers about the persons arrested for offering human sacrifices to God in the belief of unearthing treasure trove buried under the earth. The courts punished such persons considering the offering of human sacrifices, commited on the basis of religious faith, as a criminal act and refused to set them free.

Recently the Government of Maharashtra enacted the Anti-Superstition and Black Magic Act to prevent anti-social activities in the name of religious faith. When there is also a growing demand urging the Central Government to bring such an act, it would not sound good for the Supreme Court to take up this case on this basis of faith.

During the last fifteen years, highways in India were converted into four lanes and six lanes. Many temples were removed and destroyed for widening the highways. Many petitions were also filed in the courts opposing the demolition of temples as they hurt the religious sentiments of the people. But the courts refusing to take up the case on the basis of religious faith, dismissed those petitions saying that the highways were widened in the larger interest of the public.

After the delivery of such a judgment to continue the highways works, the court cannot give a different judgment to the SethuSamudram Project works.

If the Sethu Samudram Project case is taken up for hearing on the basis of faith then it would set a bad precedent. following which, thousands of petitions on the basis of faith would be filed in all the couts throughout India! Therefore the Sethu Samudram Project case should not be admitted on the basis of faith.

Above all, there is a major stumbling block for the Supreme Court to declare Ram Sethu a national monument. According to the Indian Constitution, the Supreme Court has no such power to  declare Ram Sethu a national monument.

The sea between Dhanuskodi and Talaimannar stretches to around 32 kms. The international maritime boundary is in the middle of the Sea between the two countries. So half of the sea stretching to about 16 kms. belongs to India and the other half to Sri Lanka. Likewise, if we assume that Ram Sethu also extends from Dhanuskodi to Talaimannar, the half of the bridge about 16 k.ms.only belongs to India and the remaining half to Sri Lanka.

The Constitution of Sri Lanka declared Sri Lanka a Buddhist Country. Therefore it is the duty of the Government of Sri Lanka to protect and spread Buddhism. But the Sri Lankan Buddhist Government do not confine to this. They indulge in violence to destroy other religious faiths. They have already demolished a  large number of temples, mosques and churches.

Therefore, the Sri Lankan Government can demolish and completely wipe out about 16 kms. Ram Sethu that belongs to Sri Lanka. The Sri Lanka Buddhist Government may hurry up to demolish the bridge, once it is declared Ram Sethu. If Sri Lanka starts the demolition, India cannot do anything to prevent it.

According to the Constitution of India, the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is confined to Indian borders. The Supreme Court has no powers beyond the Indian borders. Under this condition, the Supreme Court has no power to declare the whole of the Adam’s Bridge, including the half of the bridge that belongs to Sri Lanka, a national monument. Would it be possible to declare half of the bridge that belongs to India alone a national monument? Than it would mean half of the bridge is sacred and ancient while the other half is not sacred and so can be demolished.

If a woman is called a woman of chastity, it means that she is hundred percent a woman of chastity. It would be awkward to call a woman, as a woman of half-chastity. Therefore, it would be absurd if the Supreme Court would declare half of the bridge a national monument. As such and according to law, there is  no possibility for the Supreme Court to declare Adam’s Bridge a national monument. So the right decision would be to permit the continuance of Sethu Samudram Project works in the old 6th alignment.

Courtesy : The Rising Sun

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