Tens of thousands protest in India for controversial Hindu temple

Tens of thousands protest in India for controversial Hindu temple

The All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM) on Sunday wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind seeking his intervention in the Ayodhya situation where thousands of Hindu activists and leaders have gathered for a 'Dharma Sabha where they are likely to spell out their strategy for construction of a grand Ram temple. Hindu groups say there was a temple at the site before the mosque was built.

Among the protesters are several members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council), which pulled down the dome of the 15th century Babri Masjid (Babri mosque) in 1992. The destruction prompted nationwide riots that left around 2,000 people dead, mostly Muslims.

In the run-up to a general election due by May 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and many Hindu outfits affiliated with the BJP have ratcheted up their demand for a new temple at the disputed site, which most Hindus believe was the birthplace of warrior-God Lord Ram.

The northern city has been a key point of tension between Hindus and Muslims.

The case over the dispute has been languishing in India's legal system for years without any final outcome.

The BJP was on the margins until the 1980s when it backed the movement for construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. The decision was challenged in the Supreme court, but there has not been any decision yet.

Addressing the sabha at the Badey Bhaktmaal ki Bagia, Ramji Das said, "It is only a matter of few days, and I request you all to show some patience".

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Mr. Thackeray, who was here with Sena workers ahead of the "Dharma Sabha" organised by the VHP on Sunday, told reporters that the goal of his visit was not politics or elections but to "awaken the sleeping Kumbhakarna". "But, we will not wait anymore now".

The build-up of Hindu religious leaders and right-wing political activists has also raised questions about the safety of Muslims who live in Ayodhya and other nearby areas.

Ayodhya Municipal Corporation Mayor Rishikesh Upadhyay, however, said there was no fear or apprehension among the Muslims. "We are prepared to meet all challenges, all arrangements are in place in the town, the district and its border area to avoid any untoward incident".

"BJP is actually exploiting religion sentiments to get votes as the elections in five states have already been announced", Rahmani added.

Both Hindu and Muslim groups have petitioned India's Supreme Court to resolve the issue.

A day earlier, Thackeray asked if demonetisation could be implemented without waiting for the court to decide, what stopped the government from bypassing the Supreme Court to bring a law on the temple. Meanwhile, another major event is going to be organised by the VHP on Sunday, which is reportedly going to be the biggest congregation of RSS karsevaks after the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition.

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