(CTN NEWS) – An Indian official revealed on Wednesday that the initial phase of construction for the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, a town in northern India, is on track to conclude in December. It is anticipated that the temple will open its doors to devotees in January.
The construction site holds a tumultuous history, as it was at the center of a heated dispute between Hindus and Muslims for many years.
Hindus assert that the site is the sacred birthplace of Lord Ram, with historical significance predating the construction of the Babri mosque by Muslim Mughals in 1528.
In 1992, a Hindu mob dismantled the mosque, triggering widespread riots across India that resulted in the loss of approximately 2,000 lives, primarily among Muslims.
In 2019, India’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Hindu community, granting them ownership of the site.
This landmark decision cleared the way for the construction of the long-anticipated Hindu temple, a plan strongly supported by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu-nationalist party.
Nripendra Misra, the Chairman of the Shri Ramjanmabhoomi Temple Construction Committee, has extended an invitation to Prime Minister Modi to participate in the prayers during the inaugural ceremony.
According to Misra, “The ground floor of the temple is expected to be finished by December 2023. Once this phase is completed and after the lord has been moved to the sanctum sanctorum, we will open the doors to allow devotees to come and offer their prayers.”
Ayodhya’s Babri Mosque Demolition: Background and Disputed Site Details
The destruction of the centuries-old Babri mosque in the sacred Indian town of Ayodhya by a Hindu mob in late 1992 ignited deadly religious riots across the nation, resulting in the tragic loss of approximately 2,000 lives.
Here are crucial facts concerning the disputed site, drawn from both court and government records.
The Hindu epic scripture Ramayana references Ayodhya, situated in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, nearly 700 km (435 miles) from New Delhi, as the birthplace of Lord Ram, the revered Hindu god-king believed to be a physical incarnation of Lord Vishnu, one of Hinduism’s principal deities.
In 1528, during the reign of India’s first Mughal ruler, Babur, a mosque was erected in Ayodhya. Many Hindus contend that it was constructed on the precise birthplace of Lord Ram, where there exists some evidence of a former Hindu temple’s existence.
In December 1949, certain Hindu activists placed idols of Lord Ram inside the disputed structure, leading to the mosque’s takeover by authorities. Court orders prohibited the removal of these idols, effectively halting the structure’s use as a mosque from that moment.
Both Hindu and Muslim factions lodged separate claims regarding the site and the structure. In 1989, the Allahabad High Court issued an order to maintain the status quo.
Ayodhya Dispute Escalation: From Failed Negotiations to Demolition and Government Intervention (1991-1993)
The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), a Hindu nationalist organization, and the All India Babri Masjid Action Committee, a Muslim group, attempted to resolve the dispute through negotiations, but their efforts were unsuccessful.
In 1991, when the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by the current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, came to power in Uttar Pradesh, the campaign for the construction of a Ram temple gained momentum.
The state government began acquiring land adjacent to the disputed structure with the intention of having Hindu volunteers build a temple there without disturbing the mosque. However, this proposal was rejected by a state court.
On December 6, 1992, a group of Hindus who had gathered for a rally near the site climbed the mosque and began damaging its domes with axes and hammers. In a short span of time, the entire structure was completely demolished.
At that time, India’s President, Shankar Dayal Sharma, assumed all the functions of the Uttar Pradesh government and dissolved the state assembly. The federal government took control of all the disputed land, expanding the area to 67.7 acres through an executive order in 1993.
Allahabad High Court’s Landmark Verdict on Ayodhya Dispute (September 2010)
In September 2010, the Allahabad High Court delivered a verdict stating that the primary site where the mosque had previously stood should be divided into three parts: one for Muslims and two for Hindus.
In its ruling, the court acknowledged the complexity of reaching a decision on such a sensitive issue.
The three-judge bench presiding over the case expressed the challenges they faced with a metaphor, saying, “Here is a small piece of land where angels fear to tread. It is full of innumerable landmines. We are required to clear it.”
The court further noted, “Some very sensible individuals advised us not to attempt this task hastily, as it is fraught with danger. We do not intend to rush in recklessly, as we do not wish to face the consequences of being imprudent.
Nevertheless, we understand that taking risks is necessary. It is often said that the greatest risk in life is failing to dare when the occasion demands it.”
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