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Indian city tense as thousands of Hindus gather close to disputed religious places

AYODHYA, India (Reuters) – Tough security began tens of thousands of monks and activists from Hindu nationalist groups gathered at…

AYODHYA, India (Reuters) – Tough security began tens of thousands of monks and activists from Hindu nationalist groups gathered at the Indian city of Ayodhya on Sunday to demand the construction of a temple in a controversial religious place.

Supporters of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), a Hindu nationalist organization, preparing flags at the site of Sunday’s “Dharma Sabha” or a religious assembly organized by VHP, in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, India, November 24, 201

8. REUTERS / Pawan Kumar

Over 200,000 people are expected to close the site where a Hindu mob in 1992 dropped a mosque from the 16th century and killed deadly religious riots that killed about 2,000 people in one of India’s worst municipalities since the 1947 Partition [19659004] More than 900 extra police officers and a large number of paramilitaries, including elite commands, have been stationed at Ayodhya, said Vivek Tripathi, spokesman for Uttar Pradesh police. “We monitor the entire city with CCTV and drone cameras,” said Tripathi.

At the beginning of a general election in May 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modis Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and many Hindu outfits affiliated with BJP acquired the demand for a new temple at the controversial site that most Hindus believe was the birthplace of warrior God Lord Ram.

Hindu groups point to evidence that there was a temple before a mosque was built by a Muslim ruler in 1528.

“The mosque was a little in Hindus and it is a pity that we failed to build a temple on one of the holiest places for the Hindu, “says Sharad Sharma, spokesman for Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) or World Hindus Council, closely linked to BJP.

Hindus becomes impatient and time has come to build a great temple for Lord Ram, Sharma said.

The group gathered on Sunday will urge the government to introduce legislation to pave the way for a temple, said Bablu Khan, a elected BJP member in Ayodhya.

Both Hindu and Muslim groups have produced India’s Supreme Court to help solve the problem. The Supreme Court has sought more time to give judgment.

Sharma said that the delay has disappointed India’s majority Hindu community that can not wait indefinitely for a verdict.

Both BJP and VHP and their parent movement, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, have asked the government to issue an executive order to build a temple and circumvent the Supreme Court.

The highly fortified site, which looks like a small garrison city, is under the supreme court control.

The Sunday Assembly of Ayodhya would be followed up with major gatherings in New Delhi, India’s capital, Sharma said.

The building of Hindu religious leaders and right-wing political activists has also raised questions about the safety of Muslims living in Ayodhya and other neighboring areas.

Zafaryab Jilani, a leading member of All India’s Muslim Personnel Board, said it is mandated by state administration to ensure community security.

Administration is set up to protect every single individual in the city, says Anil Pathak, District Manager of Faizabad, where Ayodhya City is located.

Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing Michael Perry

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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