- Many Hindus believe that the deity Ram was born in the place where the Mongol Muslim rulers built the mosque in the sixteenth century.
- The construction of the temple came after a ruling by the Supreme Court of India last year granting the disputed place to Hindus.
- The Council of Personal Status of Muslims throughout India protested.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled a memorial plaque of a Hindu temple in the northern city of Ayodhya, in a site from which a mosque was removed nearly three decades ago, sparking bloody riots across the country. A mosque was destroyed by Hindu crowds in 1992.
Many Hindus believe that the deity Ram was born in the place where the Mongol Muslim rulers built the mosque in the sixteenth century. The riots killed 2,000 people.
“The entire nation is under Ram’s spell today,” said the prime minister, wearing a golden kurta and a sash in the sacred Hindu color saffron. “By God’s grace, a golden chapter is being written by India.”
The construction of the temple fulfills a promise made long ago by Modi and his Hindu nationalist party, and marks the first anniversary of the implementation of another pledge made by his government: ending the special concessions of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, which is the only Muslim-majority state in India.
Modi, who reached the city of Ayodhya to attend the ceremony, placed a silver stone at the site, as Hindus recited chants symbolizing the beginning of the construction of the temple.
“Today the hopes and aspirations of Hindus have been fulfilled for centuries,” said Mohan Bhagwat, head of the Rashtriya Swayamsiwak Sang organization, which is the ideological reference of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), during the ceremony.
The construction of the temple came after a ruling by the Supreme Court of India last year granting the disputed place to Hindus, who make up the majority of the population. In exchange, a plot of land was granted to Muslims to build a mosque, at the end of a court battle that lasted years.
Only 175 people, most of whom are Hindu spiritual leaders, were invited to the ceremony, with restrictions on large gatherings due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus.
Ayodhya prepared for this event, and residents lit thousands of lamps on the eve of the ceremony. However, the city was closed to strangers, and Hindu individuals were asked to celebrate this event by holding prayers at home or gathering in small numbers.
In a gesture of reconciliation, two prominent Muslims who witnessed the riots said they would attend the ceremony. However, an influential Islamic non-governmental organization reported that the Babri Mosque “was a mosque and will remain a mosque forever.”
“Unjust and Oppressive Rule”
The Council of Personal Status of Muslims throughout India said on Twitter:
“The usurpation of the land by an unjust, oppressive and disgraceful rule that appeals to the majority cannot change its status. There is no need for sadness, as conditions do not last forever.”
Yellow flowers decorated the area around a temple on the banks of the Saraio River, where Modi would perform the prayer before heading to the construction site on his first visit to the place since he became prime minister in 2014.
A large number of security officials were deployed in Ayodhya, where thousands gathered, most of them with no masks, although the social distancing procedures would only allow about 200 to gather at the main event site.