Mosque des­e­cra­tion an­niver­sary passes off peace­fully

Mus­lims held com­mem­o­ra­tions of those who lost their lives in 1992

The Gulf Today - - ASIA -

AY­O­D­HYA: Some 2,000 ba­ton­wield­ing In­dian po­lice were on duty In THE flash­point City of AY­O­D­HYA on Thurs­day to pre­vent any clashes.

Hindu zealots des­e­crated the Babri mosque in 1992, kick­ing off ri­ots across In­dia that left thou­sands dead, most of them Mus­lims, and the site’s fu­ture has be­come a ma­jor touch­stone is­sue in In­dian pol­i­tics.

Prime Minister Naren­dra Modi’s Hindu na­tion­al­ist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014 pledg­ing to con­struct a tem­ple on the same spot, but the is­sue re­mains tied up in the courts.

The an­niver­sary of the des­e­cra­tion is al­ways tense with some hard­lin­ers seek­ing to com­mem­o­rate the event, and on Thurs­day po­lice were tak­ing no chances, stand­ing be­hind yel­low steel bar­ri­cades, check­ing ve­hi­cles and stop­ping some passers-by.

With around 1,500 Hin­dus vis­it­ing the city, watch­tower guards and se­cu­rity cam­eras were trained on the ru­ins of the Babri mosque, which are pro­tected by a high steel fence.

There was no vi­o­lence but po­lice ar­rested eight peo­ple in­clud­ing a lo­cal priest who threat­ened to set him­self on ire.

Modi, run­ning for a sec­ond term in 2019, has faced some dis­quiet from his core sup­port­ers who feel that he has not done enough for the cause of hav­ing a tem­ple built.

Ut­tar Pradesh’s state chief minister Yogi Adityanath, a fire­brand monk who has long cam­paigned for the tem­ple, has also un­veiled plans to build the world’s largest statue in Ay­o­d­hya — a 221-me­tre (725-foot) bronze Ram.

On an av­er­age day, a few thou­sand Hindu devo­tees visit the makeshift tem­ple that was es­tab­lished af­ter 1992.

Mus­lim groups, mean­while, held small com­mem­o­ra­tions of those who lost their lives in 1992.

“All we want is peace and har­mony. Mus­lims and Hin­dus of Ay­o­d­hya have al­ways lived in har­mony but it is the politi­cians who stoke ha­tred for their elec­toral gains,” said Mo­hammed Shahzad, who runs a meat shop in the city.

“The mosque in my neigh­bour­hood was at­tacked dur­ing the ri­ots In 1992. Our Home was set on ire, we some­how man­aged to save our lives. We don’t want a re­peat of the vi­o­lence at any cost.”

As­so­ci­ated Press

Left party sup­port­ers rally for com­mu­nal har­mony in Kolkata on Thurs­day.

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