Controversial site upon which Babri Mosque had been located was given to trust to oversee construction of Hindu temple
A trust has been established to oversee the construction of a “grand temple” at Ayodhya, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Wednesday, as he urged lawmakers to support the initiative.
A mob of Hindu hardliners in 1992 razed the Babri Mosque, provoking some of India’s worst sectarian violence since Partition, with over 2,000 people killed. The case languished in court for decades before the Indian Supreme Court, in November, ruled that the land upon which the mosque had stood should be given to a trust that would oversee the construction of a temple dedicated to Hindu deity Ram. A separate parcel of land would be granted to Muslims for a mosque, the verdict added.
“Let us all support the construction of a grand Ram Temple in Ayodhya,” Modi said in Parliament to applause and chants of “Hail Lord Ram” from party supporters.
Modi’s announcement is in line with a campaign pledge of his Bharatiya Janata Party, which had been promising to build a temple in Ayoydha even before the Babri Mosque was destroyed nearly 30 years ago. For critics, the temple construction supports their belief that Modi wants to transform India into a purely Hindu nation; a charge he has repeatedly denied.
In 2002, when Modi was chief minister of Gujarat state, 59 Hindus died in a blaze on a train from Ayodhya, leading to riots that saw around 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, killed at the hands of raving mobs.
The temple would be built on 67 acres, while five acres on the outskirts of Ayodhya would be handed over to a Muslim body for the construction of a mosque, according to the Press Trust of India.
India’s Home Minister Amit Shah welcomed Modi’s announcement, saying a centuries-old wait for the temple was over. People would be finally able to worship at Ram’s birthplace, he added, referring to an unsubstantiated belief that Ayoydha is the location where the Hindu deity was born.