Indian PM lays foundation stone of grand Ram Temple

Uma Bharti

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Across the country, people remained glued to their television sets as Modi performed rituals at the Ram Janmabhoomi, the site of a bitter Hindu-Muslim conflict that lasted decades before being settled by the Supreme Court a year ago. This mosque was itself burned to the ground in 1992, sparking major riots. Doordarshan had set up multiple cameras, Outside Broadcasting and Digital Satellite News Gathering for the event.

In their speeches, Modi and Bhagwat both radiated quiet satisfaction at the start of the project that would restore the values that Ram stood for, as the bedrock of society in India.

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"India's gross and systematic human rights violations in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir, and BJP's sinister design to change the demography of the occupied territory, all reflect the rising tide of the divisive and extremist ideology in India which poses threat to religious harmony in India and to regional peace", it further said. With the construction of the Ram temple, this sacred land of Ayodhya will once again rise to its pristine glory in the world, he said, adding that the amalgamation of religion and development will also generate employment opportunities. In November past year, the Supreme Court permitted the construction of the temple and directed the government to acquire an alternative plot of land to build a mosque.

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Despite efforts to eradicate Lord Ram's existence, he lives in our hearts and is the basis of our culture, Modi said.

The prime minister drew a parallel between the foundation stone laying ceremony of Ram temple and Independence Day saying that "Ram Janmabhoomi has got freedom today".

The Babri Masjid, a 16th century mosque, was an oft-disputed site for Hindu extremists, who considered the city of Ayodhya the birthplace of Ram, a Hindu deity.

In an elaborate ceremony, Modi laid a plaque dedicated to the god-king Ram, believed to be a physical incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu.

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The dispute, considered to be the longest litigation in the country, lingered in various courts since 1950, until it came to the Supreme Court of India in 2011 for final adjudication. Not surprisingly, therefore, Indonesia was also the first foreign nation to be mentioned by PM Modi in his speech on Wednesday at Ayodhya. "Situations don't last forever".

The protesters, under a banner of Coalition to Stop Genocide in India, assailed the launch of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, which they described as "born out of their (fanatic Hindus) criminal acts".

Only 175 religious saints, priests and Hindu and Muslim community representatives were invited to the ceremony.

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