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Two prominent Muslims, including litigant in dispute, to grace Ayodhya temple event

A member of a bomb squad team sits on the step of a staircase at the Hanuman Garhi temple before the arrival of India’s Prime Minister to offer a prayer ahead of the groundbreaking ceremony of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya on August 5, 2020. (Photo: SANJAY KANOJIA/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Eastern Eye Staff

IN a gesture of reconciliation, two prominent Muslims who lived through deadly riots following the razing of a mosque in northern India in 1992 plan to attend the foundation-laying ceremony for a Hindu temple on Wednesday (5) on the same site, they said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose Hindu nationalist party has been leading the demand for a temple there dedicated to the god-king Ram, is expected to be the chief guest at the event in Ayodhya town.

Construction was made possible by a verdict late last year from the Supreme Court of India awarding the disputed site to the Hindus, and the planned visit by the two well-known Muslims underscored an easing of animosity between followers of the two religious faiths in one of Hindu-majority India’s most communally sensitive regions.

 

Iqbal Ansari, one of the Muslim litigants in the case, with the invitation to the ceremony. (Photo: Twitter)

 

“Whatever happened are things of the past,” said Iqbal Ansari, one of the Muslim litigants. “I’ve been invited and I think it’s the wish of Lord Ram and I am going to attend it.”

Mohammad Sharif, another Muslim honoured with one of India’s highest civilian awards (Padma Shri) for doing the last rites of unclaimed bodies since the riots, told Reuters he too had got an invitation and was keen to be there.

 

Mohammad Sharif, a social worker, also has reportedly been invited to the event. (Photo: PIB)

 

In 1992, a Hindu mob destroyed the 16th-century Babri mosque on the site, triggering clashes in which about 2,000 people were killed across the country. Hindus believe the site is the birthplace of Lord Ram, a physical incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu.

The area, situated about 427 miles southeast of New Delhi, was filled with the sounds of vedic hymns ahead of the ground-breaking ceremony.

Barricades have been put up across the town with heavy police presence, as authorities try to limit the number of visitors to maintain social distancing. At least two priests in the area and four policemen have tested positive for Covid-19.

Still, nearly 200 people are likely to be there at the event, including 135 saints and priests from Nepal.

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