Mosque desecration anniversary passes off peacefully
Muslims held commemorations of those who lost their lives in 1992
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.”
Left party supporters rally for communal harmony in Kolkata on Thursday.