An Indian Police Service officer of the director general of police rank has stirred a controversy by openly favouring the construction of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya 'at the earliest'.
Surya Kumar Shukla, DG, Homeguard, not only participated in an event on Ram Mandir organised at Lucknow University two days ago, but was also captured on camera taking a pledge to build the Ram Mandir.
Shukla is due to retire in August.
The video of the 1982-batch Indian Police Service officer taking the pledge went viral on social and electronic media on Friday.
"We Ram-bhakts, today, as part of this programme, take this pledge that at the earliest, the Ram Mandir be constructed. Jai Shri Ram," the video showed him saying.
Many other people were also seen taking the pledge with him at the event, where slogans of 'Jai Shri Ram' was raised.
Shukla, however, said he had done nothing wrong.
"I was taking a pledge to create an atmosphere of harmony. The video that has gone viral is an edited version and portions have been deleted deliberately to create mischief," he said.
"It is misinterpretation... The matter related more to creating a peaceful environment for the construction of the temple rather than the construction itself," he said.
Shukla said there was a discussion at the programme that if Hindus and Muslims talk about the construction of the temple in Ayodhya and a mosque at a distance from there, then the dispute will end.
The Supreme Court has suggested that a way should be found through talks, he said.
Commenting on the video, SP spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary termed it a violation of service rules by the IPS officer.
"Shukla is a public servant, and he is not supposed to take such a pledge at a public function," he said.
Congress leader Deepak Singh said, "Till now, leaders use to befool people in the name of temple, now officers are doing the same. The government should take note of this."
Bharatiya Janata Party spokesmen were not ready to comment on the episode, claiming they had not seen the video.