Ayodhya: Security has been tightened ahead of two big events organised by Shiv Sena and VHP
New Delhi/Ayodhya: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who landed in Ayodhya today, 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 along with his wife Rashmi and son Aditya participated in aarti along the banks of the Sarayu river. Thousands of Shiv Sena arrived in Ayodhya today for Ram Lalla's darshan. Another big event is lined up for Sunday by right-wing organisation Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Security has been tightened in Ayodhya with thousands of police and paramilitary personnel keeping a strict watch to keep the situation under control.
Here's your 10-point cheat-sheet to this big story:
- "Day, months, years and generations have passed. Mandir wahin baneyenge, par date nahin batayenge (You say you will make the temple there, but won't tell the date)," the Sena chief said.
- The Shiv Sena chief brought a pot full of soil from the Shivneri fort in Pune, which will be handed over to the priest at the Ram janmabhoomi.
- This was Uddhav Thackeray's first visit to Ayodhya. Shiv Sena leaders Sanjay Raut, Eknath Shinde and Rajan Vichare, and Mumbai mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar have been camping in Ayodhya for the last few days to prep the event.
- The VHP 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.
- Two lakh people are expected to attend the VHP event tomorrow. The organisation says the agenda of tomorrow's "dharma sansad" is to discuss the way forward for the construction of the Ram temple.
- 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.
- Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has asked the Supreme Court to send the army, if necessary, to keep the situation under control. "The BJP doesn't believe in either the Supreme Court or the constitution. The party can go to any extent. The kind of environment there is in UP, especially in Ayodhya, the Supreme Court should take notice of it and send the Army if necessary," he said.
- Similar events will take place in Bangalore and Nagpur on Sunday before a big VHP gathering in Delhi on December 9 and a weeklong series of events across India starting December 18 to drum up support for Ram temple. "By then, if the government/courts don't respond, we will hold a Dharma Sansad at the Kumbh," a VHP member said.
- The ruling BJP faces calls from its leaders as well as hardline affiliates for an ordinance or special order to facilitate a Ram temple in Ayodhya in an election year. The Supreme Court in October said the Ayodhya temple-mosque dispute will be taken up in the first week of January.
- Muslims have raised concern over the rising pitch of the right wing campaigns in Ayodhya. A comment by Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Friday had raised brows: "We demolished the Babri masjid in 17 minutes, how much time does it take to draw up papers? If you talk about an ordinance, then from the President's House Rashtrapati Bhavan to Uttar Pradesh, it is BJP all the way. What else do you want?"
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