Ayodhya: Security has been tightened ahead of two big events organised by Shiv Sena and VHP.
Ayodhya, a temple town in Uttar Pradesh, is on edge as Shiv Sena and Vishwa Hindu Parishad raise pitch for the construction of the Ram temple.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad is holding a "dharma sansad" to discuss the way forward for the construction of the Ram temple. The VHP has been mobilising support for its big event through bike rallies and processions across UP in the last few days.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who is on a two-day visit to the state, said a Ram temple will be built in Ayodhya whether or not the present government at the Centre stays in power. "I told the saints who blessed me yesterday that the work which we are about to begin can't be done without their blessings. I have no hidden agenda in coming to Ayodhya. I've come here to express the sentiments of all Indians and Hindus across the world. They are all waiting for the Ram Mandir to be built," he said. Mr Thackeray had carried a pot full of soil from the Shivneri fort in Pune, which will be handed over to the mahant or priest at the janmabhoomi.
Here are the LIVE updates on VHP Dharma Sabha in Ayodhya:
Ram temple is not a political issue, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said Sunday and expressed hope that Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who is in Ayodhya, would get the blessings of Lord Ram. (News agency PTI)
Shivpal Yadav met Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik to discuss the development in Ayodhya.
Shivpal Yadav, who is the younger brother of Samajwadi Party (SP) patron Mulayam Singh Yadav, expressed concern that despite prohibitory orders lakhs of people were allowed and even facilitated by the state government to gather in the temple town.
"A similar situation had arisen in 1992 and it is for everyone to see what happened...the matter is before the Supreme Court and everyone should show patience," he said while pointing out thatt there was a large stretch of land on the banks of the river Saryu which was under government control and that a Ram temple can be constructed there.
"Why this obstinacy to build a Ram temple at the spot where Babri mosque was razed," he said.
The streets of Ayodhya are filled with right-wing activists who have poured in from various parts of the county for Vishwa Hindu Parishad's 'Dharma Sabha'.
The event is being touted as the largest congregation of 'Ram bhakts' in Ayodhya since the 1992 'kar seva', with the Hindu outfit claiming a large number of people will attend it.
The congregation is happening less than two weeks ahead of the 26th anniversary of the demolition of the 16th century Babri Mosque.
Emotions of Hindus should not be taken for granted: Uddhav Thackeray
A Ram temple will be built in Ayodhya whether or not the current government at the Centre stays in power, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said. "If it doesn't build it, then this government may not stay, but the Mandir will still be built," he said after a visit to the makeshift Ram temple at the disputed Ram Janmbhoomi Babri Masjid site.
The Sena chief said he had sought the blessings of the saints. "I told the saints who blessed me yesterday that the work which we are about to begin can't be done without their blessings. I have no hidden agenda in coming to Ayodhya. I've come here to express the sentiments of all Indians and Hindus across the world. They are all waiting for the Ram Mandir to be built," he said.
The Sena chief also accused the Modi government of politicising the temple movement. "It is during elections that some people say Ram - Ram. But after polls they go back to sleep," he said.
Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said Shiv Sena had no role in the temple movement.
"There is no problem in Uddhav Thackeray catching a glimpse of Ram Lalla... But, had Balasaheb Thackeray been alive, he would have prevented Uddhav from doing whatever he is doing," Mr Maurya was quoted by news agency PTI.
"The Shiv Sena had no role in the temple movement or even in the Dharam Sabha, though Balasaheb Thackeray would support the Vishwa Hindu Parishad," he said.
The administration has put in place drone cameras to keep an eye on the people assembling for the VHP meet.
Shiv Sena is believed to have sent some 3,000 supporters by two trains from Maharashtra.
Uddhav Thackeray returns to the hotel after visiting the Ram Lalla temple earlier today. (ANI)
All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) chief Zafaryab Jilani said that Muslims in Ayodhya are "terrified" ahead of the VHP meeting. "The Muslims living in Ayodhya are terrified since about the past week. We have also asked those feeling insecure to come to Lucknow if they want," Mr Jilani told news agency PTI.
The VHP, in the last few weeks, mobilised support for the rally across Uttar Pradesh through bike rallies, processions and other public events. Ayodhya has turned into a fortress with multiple layers of security and deployment of drones as VHP and Shiv Sena supporters arrived in the temple town.
Uddhav Thackeray leaves for Ram lalla temple.
Mr Thackeray arrived in Ayodhya yesterday, with his wife Rashmi and son Aditya. He was greeted with "Jai Shree Ram" slogans and Mahant Nrityagopal Das, the chairman of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, was among those who welcomed him at Lakshman Qila. Mr Thackeray claimed that his two-day visit to Ayodhya is not linked to the VHP event. He described his visit as the first one to the temple town to seek 'darshan' of Ram Lalla.
Uddhav Thackeray will hold a press conference today, where he is expected to push for the construction of the Ram temple. The Shiv Sena leader will do a darshan in the ram janmabhoomi today.
Various organisations are holding programmes in Ayodhya on Saturday for an early construction of the Ram temple there.
The Shiv Sena has been accused of politicising the Ram temple issue. On Saturday, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati said Sena was raking up the Ram temple issue ahead of the Lok Sabha polls to divert attention from their failures.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made for the two big events. An Uttar Pradesh police spokesperson said 35 senior police officers, in addition to 160 inspectors and 700 constables, have been deployed in Ayodhya. Forty-two companies of the Provincial Armed Constabulary, five companies of the Rapid Action Force and several anti-terrorism squad commandos have also deployed. They are being supported by drones.
Two lakh people are expected to attend the VHP event today. The organisation says the agenda of "dharma sansad" is to discuss the way forward for the construction of the Ram temple.
Another big event lined up for today is by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The right-wing organisation will hold a separate event on Sunday, which it says will be the biggest congregation of saints and supporters of the Ram temple since 1992, when the 16th-century Babri Masjid was destroyed by lakhs of right wing volunteers or karsewaks.
Uddhav Thackeray, who landed in Ayodhya on Saturday, wants Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce a date when the construction of the Ram temple will begin. "First say when will you construct the temple, the rest we will talk later," he said in what sounded like a dare to the BJP ahead of next year's Lok Sabha elections.
Mr Thackeray is being accompanied by his wife Rashmi and son Aditya. On Saturday, the Shiv Sena leader participated in aarti along the banks of the Sarayu river. Thousands of Shiv Sena arrived in Ayodhya for Ram Lalla's darshan.