Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has announced plan to kick off the construction of a Hindu temple on a site of razed mosque in the northern city of Ayodhya.
While disclosing this on Tuesday August 3, 2020, Modi stated that he would unveil a plaque to mark the beginning of temple construction on a spot where a mosque was demolished nearly three decades ago to spark deadly riots nationwide.
Modi’s move with his Hindu nationalist party is in fulfilment of his long-standing promise, as they mark the first anniversary of another commitment delivered by his government, which also ends privileges of India’s only Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Late last year, a supreme court ended years of ligation when it ruled that the disputed site be handed over the India’s Hindu majority in exchange for a plot given to the Muslim community for a mosque.
“Usurpation of the land by an unjust, oppressive, shameful and majority-appeasing judgement can’t change its status,” the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board said on Twitter.
However, two prominent Muslims who experienced the riots said they would attend the ceremony in a gesture of reconciliation.
Many Hindus believe the god-king Ram was born on the exact spot where the mosque was built in the 16th century by Muslim Mughal rulers.
In 1992, the mosque was demolished by a Hindu mob, which led to 2,000 deaths of mostly Muslims during riots.
Modi is scheduled to offer prayers at the yellow flower-decorated bank of Sarayu River near a temple before proceeding to the construction site of the Hindu temple at noon on his first such visit since 2014 when he became the prime minister.
Many security officials were on standby at Ayodhya, crowded by thousands of people with a few wearing masks against the coronavirus.
Security authorities hoped to allow only about 200 people to gather at the main site as a social distancing measure against the coronavirus infections.
Modi’s decision to attend the ceremony has been criticized by certain sections of the Indian populace, as about 300 people, including academics, journalists and some political leaders, appealed to the Prime Minister “to desist from participating in a public function that will have long term negative ramifications for the democratic, secular fabric of the country.”