Peaceful Protest by Hindus Demanding Temple by 16th Century Mosque

Ayodhya India 2013 Temples of India, Nature river scenes
Ramnath Bhat [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Over 200,000 monks and Hindu activists gather at Ayodhya to bring attention to construction of temple.

On Sunday, over 200,000 monks and Hindu activists assembled in Ayodhya, asking the government once again to construct a temple on the religious site. In 1992, Hindu extremists attacked and destroyed a mosque from the 16th century, which stood on the same location. The attack led to riots throughout India, which took the lives of at least 2,000 people.

According to Hindus, this site is religious, as Lord Ram, a divine being, was born in this place. However, Muslims state they have been worshipping in the same place for several generations.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), along with several Hindu activists such as the Shiv Sena and Vishwa Hindu Parishad gathered at the site. BJP, the party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been taking measures to ramp up their efforts to build the temple.

Security was stepped up in Ayodhya, to keep a check on the rally, while protecting the Muslim minority in the town.

Due to the gathering of the masses, several local Muslim residents decided to vacate the town. According to a community leader of the Muslims, Ahmad, the convention of religious groups in this site is causing tension to build up.

On the other hand, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, the community head for the land under debate stated Hindus are getting impatient, as they have waited several years for the government to make a decision. The leader of Shiv Sena, Uddav Thackeray, made it clear Modi and his party won’t be successful in forming the government if they don’t start constructing the temple.

Why is Ayodhya important to the BJP?

The site has been the center of attention for several centuries, since the construction of the mosque in 1528. Muslim and Hindu groups have approached the Supreme Court of India with the goal of bringing the dispute between both religions to an end. In 2010, a smaller court concluded two-thirds of the land should go to Hindus, while the remainder is for Muslims.

Out of all the states in India, Uttar Pradesh is the most populated. As a result, any party which aims to form the government must win the general elections in this state. By bringing the attention back to the temple, BJP is animating the Hindus with religious sentiments. The party used a similar tactic in 2014, giving it the momentum to secure 71 out of 80 seats from the state.

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