06/09/2015, 00.00
INDIA
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Neither temple nor mosque but a futuristic museum dedicated to Rama

India’s Tourism minister announced that the museum would not be built on the site claimed by both Muslims and Hindus. However, Hindu nationalist BJP lawmakers have pledged to build a grand temple. In 1992, Sangh Parivar radicals razed to the ground the ancient Babri Mosque and built a temple dedicated to Rama.

New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agency) – The Indian government plans to build a futuristic museum dedicated to Prince Rama in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, on a site claimed for centuries by both Muslims and Hindus, the Economic Times reported, citing Union Minister of State for Tourism Sharma Mahesh. However, the latter insisted that the new structure would not be built on disputed land.

According to Hindu tradition, Ayodhya is the birthplace of Rama, avatar (incarnation, manifestation) of the god Vishnu. In the same city, the Babri Masjid (mosque) was built in 1528. For centuries, Hindus claimed that the building had been built on the site of an ancient Hindu temple dedicated to the god, and tried to tear it down.

Summoned to Ayodhya for a symbolic ceremony to rebuild the temple dedicated to Rama, Sangh Parivar activists attacked the mosque on 6 December 1992 and tore it down, including its three domes, in less than three hours. On the same night, a small Hindu temple was built on the site of the demolished mosque.

Despite the presence of large numbers of police and paramilitary forces, the authorities did not intervene. Eventually, the case was settled in 2010 when the Allahabad High Court ruled that the disputed area should be divided into three parts between Hindus and Muslims.

However, some Hindu radicals and a number of lawmakers from the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have continued to call for the rebuilding of the temple dedicated to Rama.

The latest was Unnao Sakshi Maharaj, a BJP lawmaker from Uttar Pradesh, who two days ago said, "The temple to Ram in Ayodhya was built in 1992. Now we need to give it a grander form, and this will happen under BJP rule.”

For another BJP leader and member of the Rajya Sabha (Council of States), Vinay Katiyar, "the wrath of Rama devotees can explode like a volcano" if the government of Narendra Modi does not build a temple dedicated to Rama in Ayodhya.

Speaking about the futuristic museum, Tourism Minister Sharma said, "the government has decided to develop all the sites linked to Rama in and around Ayodhya in order to turn the city into an important cultural centre."

When asked about the plan’s political impact, the minister said, "Ours project is to develop tourism. We will not build here a temple dedicated to Rama."

Still, the museum should be completed in 2017, when Uttar Pradesh goes to the polls.

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