Facebook icon
Twitter icon
e-mail icon

Modi lays foundation for controversial Hindu temple at site of razed mosque

Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, laid the foundation stone for a controversial Hindu temple dedicated to Ram in the northern city of Ayodhya where a mosque was demolished by Hindu mobs nearly 30 years ago.

Houses and other buildings close to the temple were painted yellow - Hindu colours - whilst Modi participated in a Hindu ceremony, marking a definitive milestone in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) efforts to shift India towards an overtly Hindu identity.

"I am grateful to witness history being made,” Modi said in a speech. "Crores of Indians cannot believe that this day has come. The entire country is in the spell of Lord Ram ... Ram is an emblem of India's unity in diversity.”

Muslim Emperor Babur built a mosque at the site more than 400 years ago, but it was 1992 by Hindu mobs after a BJP rally. The destruction sparked violence that led to some 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, being killed. Violent riots in Gujarat in 2002, whilst Modi was chief minister of the state, were also linked to the Ayodhya site, which has continued to cause controversy.

However last year, India's Supreme Court ruled in favour of the building of a Hindu temple on the disputed site.

Modi was pictured praying and chanting alongside Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu cleric whom he elevated to chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, and Mohan Bhagwat, the head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu paramilitary group. 

The India prime minister helped manoeuvre one of five 40kg silver bricks before declaring, “All of India is emotional. Centuries of waiting are finally over today.”

See more from the New York Times here and Al Jazeera here.

We need your support

Sri Lanka is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. Tamil journalists are particularly at threat, with at least 41 media workers known to have been killed by the Sri Lankan state or its paramilitaries during and after the armed conflict.

Despite the risks, our team on the ground remain committed to providing detailed and accurate reporting of developments in the Tamil homeland, across the island and around the world, as well as providing expert analysis and insight from the Tamil point of view

We need your support in keeping our journalism going. Support our work today.