tirsdag 4. august 2020

India's Narendra Modi to lay foundation stone at divisive Ayodhya temple despite rise in coronavirus cases

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to lay a foundation stone for the construction of a Hindu temple at a holy site that's been at the center of the country's most politically and culturally divisive land dispute. Modi is due to lay a 40 kilogram (88 pound) silver brick at the site Wednesday in a ceremony attended by 175 dignitaries in Ayodhya, a town in Uttar Pradesh state.

For decades, Hindu groups have campaigned for a temple to the god Ram be built at the site where a 16th-century mosque stood before it was demolished by right-wing groups in 1992.  The destruction of the Babri Masjid by Hindu extremists sparked some of the worst violence seen in India since independence, with more than 2,000 people killed in nationwide rioting. 

After years of legal battles, India's Supreme Court in November 2019 granted Hindu groups permission to build the Ram Temple at the centuries-old Ayodhya holy site, effectively ending the dispute.  But Wednesday's ground laying ceremony is going ahead as India's coronavirus cases spiral, with around 50,000 new infections recorded every day for the past five days.