More than 200,000 Hindus and monks protested Sunday in Ayodhya, a disputed religious site in India, demanding the government build a temple at the site of a 16th-century Mosque.
Ayodhya, a town in India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh, had witnessed violence by Hindu mobs in 1992 when a huge rally organized by the party that is currently in power in India led to tearing down the 16th century Babri Masjid (mosque), built by the Mughal emperor Babur, which then led months-long riots across the country that in total killed around 2,000 people.
The reason of the Hindu groups’ demand to build a temple at the same sight is due to a mythical story of Ayodhya being the birthplace of Lord Ram, a mythical warrior-turned god of Hindus.
The communal riot was succeeded by a long drawn legal battle at the Supreme Court in India which is still going on.
However, the far-right Hindu organizations affiliated with India’s ruling party have ratcheted up demands for a temple at the site ahead of a general election due by May next year.
Speakers criticized the Supreme Court for not delivering a quick verdict in the favor of the temple, while the mob chanted: “To hell with the Supreme Court”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday accused the Congress of pushing the court to delay the judgment in view of upcoming elections. "They tell the Supreme Court to delay the Ayodhya hearing due to 2019 elections! They do everything possible to impeach the Chief Justice," he said.
Both the BJP and VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad or World Hindu Council) and their parent movement, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), have asked the government to issue an executive order to build a temple and bypass the Supreme Court. They also chanted anti-Muslim slogans.
Uddhav Thackeray, the chief of Shiv Sena, another Hindu extremist organization from the state of Maharashtra said, “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.”
Sunday’s gathering would be followed up with bigger protests in India’s capital New Delhi within days.