Ayodhya tense as thousands of Hindus gather near demolished Babri Masjid site

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AYODHYA: Over 200,000 people are expected near the site where a Hindu mob in 1992 pulled down a 16th-century mosque, Babri Masjid, sparking deadly religious riots that killed some 2,000 people in one of India’s worst communal violence since the partition in 1947.

More than 900 extra police and a large number of paramilitary, including elite commandos, have been stationed at Ayodhya, said Vivek Tripathi, spokesman for the Uttar Pradesh police. “We’re monitoring the entire town by CCTV and drone cameras,” Tripathi said. 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 many Hindus claim was the birthplace of warrior-God Lord Ram.

The group gathering yesterday will urge the government to introduce a legislation to pave the way for a temple, said Bablu Khan, an elected BJP council member in Ayodhya.

Both Hindu and Muslim groups have petitioned the Supreme Court to help resolve the issue. The top court has sought more time to give its verdict.

Sharad Sharma, spokesman for the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), or the World Hindu Council, which has close ties with the BJP, said the delay has disappointed India’s majority Hindu community which can not wait endlessly for a verdict.

Both the BJP and VHP and their parent movement, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, have asked the government to issue an executive order to build a temple and bypass the Supreme Court. The heavily fortified site, which looks like a small garrison town, is under the control of the Supreme Court. —Agencies

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