Indian PM Modi lays foundation stone for Ram Temple on contested Ayodhya site

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for a Hindu temple in the northern city of Ayodhya.

Hymns about Lord Ram were played, and the roads decked with flowers. Many shop fronts too were painted yellow and saffron flags put up.

Mr. Modi laid a symbolic silver brick in the sanctum sanctorum of the site as scores of devotees watched the event on giant screens across the city.

Due to Covid-19 the celebrations were restricted. Huge crowds gathered on the streets, atop houses and trees to take a glimpse of the venue did not follow Covid-19 protocols.

Speaking soon after he laid the foundation stone, Mr Modi began with the words, “Jai Siya Ram”, instead of the more popular slogan, “Jai Shri Ram”, which has become a rallying cry for right-wing Hindus in the country.

Mr Modi said that the site had been “liberated”, and a “grand house” would be finally constructed for Lord Ram who had been living “in a tent for years”. He was referring to a temporary construction that had housed the idol of Ram Lalla or infant Ram for more than three decades while the court case dragged on.

The idol was moved to a makeshift temple on the premises of the site earlier this year.

Hindus believe Ayodhya is the birthplace of Lord Ram. And the construction of the temple is a core promise made by Mr Modi’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Mosque Demolished To Build Temple: 

The core of the Ayodhya issue was a 16th century mosque – the Babri Masjid, which was demolished by Hindu mobs in 1992, sparking riots that killed nearly 2,000 people.

Many Hindus believe that the Babri Masjid was actually constructed on the ruins of a Hindu temple that was demolished by Muslim invaders.

Muslims say they offered prayers at the mosque until December 1949 when some Hindus placed an idol of Ram in the mosque and began to worship the idols.

Over decades, the two religious groups went to court many times over who should control the site.

The Supreme Court of India on 9th November 2019 in a unanimous verdict said the demolition of the Babri mosque was against the rule of law. However, going by the report of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) which provided evidence that the remains of a building “that was not Islamic” were beneath the structure of the demolished Babri mosque.

The court said that, given all the evidence presented, it had determined that the disputed land should be given to Hindus for a temple to Lord Ram, while Muslims would be given land elsewhere to construct a mosque.

Coronavirus Infections Spikes In India: 

India’s COVID-19 tally touched 1.9 million infections with 52,779 cases being reported in the past 24 hours. This is the seventh consecutive day that COVID-19 cases have increased by more than 50,000.

857 patients succumbed to coronavirus infection in past 24 hours, taking the overall death toll to 39,795.

Five most affected states by total tally of cases are Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Delhi.