Security Heightened at Disputed Indian Religious Site

INDIA-ELECTION-RELIGION-Ayodhya

India braces for mass Hindu gathering at disputed Ayodhya site

It is where a Hindu mob in 1992 pulled down a 16th-century mosque, sparking deadly religious riots that killed some 2,000 people in one of India's worst bouts of communal violence since the partition in 1947.

Many Hindus believe a spot there marks the birthplace of warrior God Lord Ram and that a mediaeval mosque that stood there for 460 years was built only after the destruction of an earlier temple.

The Babri Masjid demolition was the culmination of years of campaigns by Hindu fundamentalists to construct a Lord Rama temple on the mosque's site.

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. The decision was challenged in the Supreme court, but there has not been any decision yet. Sources said that Mr Thackeray, on Sunday morning, will offer prayers at the makeshift Ram temple.

This is the last time an effort is being made to make the people opposing the temple construction realise the facts, the VHP leader said.

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"Today lakhs of devotees are meeting in different parts of country". The court will hold hearings on the issue next year. "The prime minister has to choose between the temple and the government", he told reporters. "But, we will not wait anymore now".

"December 6 was the day when the Hindu nationalism project was launched on the political stage of the country", Rakesh Batabyal, a media studies expert, told DW.

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".

A source said that they received instructions stating that there should be no violation of the status quo at the site, according to a Times of India report.

A few Muslim families have left Ayodhya amid two big events organised by the Shiv Sena and right wing organisation Vishwa Hindu Parishad at the Uttar Pradesh town.

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Hindu groups have lobbied India's highest court to consider their claim but the case been adjourned until January.

Both the BJP and VHP and their parent movement, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), have asked the government to issue an executive order to build a temple and by-pass the Supreme Court.

Zafaryab Jilani, a senior member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said it's incumbent upon the state administration to ensure the safety of the community.

The heavily fortified site, which looks like a small garrison town, is under the control of the Supreme Court.

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