In­dian mosque de­struc­tion an­niver­sary gets tight se­cu­rity

Global Times - - WORLD -

Some 2,000 ba­ton-wield­ing In­dian po­lice were on duty in the flash­point city of Ay­o­d­hya on Thurs­day to pre­vent any clashes around the an­niver­sary of the de­struc­tion of a mosque.

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

Stand­ing be­hind yel­low steel bar­ri­cades, po­lice on Thurs­day were seen check­ing ve­hi­cles and stop­ping some passers-by for ques­tion­ing as they sought to pre­vent any flare-up in vi­o­lence.

Watch­tower guards and se­cu­rity cam­eras were trained on the ru­ins of the Babri mosque and its sur­round­ings. The dis­puted site is pro­tected by a high steel fence.

Many Hin­dus be­lieve Ay­o­d­hya marks the birth­place of the de­ity Ram, and that the mosque that stood there for 460 years was only built af­ter the de­struc­tion of an ear­lier tem­ple.

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

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.

Ut­tar Pradesh’s state pre­mier 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-me­ter bronze Ram.

On an av­er­age day, a few thou­sand Hindu devo­tees visit the makeshift tem­ple that was es­tab­lished af­ter 1992. But on Thurs­day fewer devo­tees could be seen.

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.

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