Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath on Friday said that “sanatan dharma” – a term often associated with Hinduism – is the national religion of India.

“We all must rise above our personal interests and feel connected to this national religion of ours,” Adityanath said, while speaking at an idol restoration event at a temple in Rajasthan’s Bhinmal. “May our country be safe, our values be restored, cows and Brahmins be protected. If our places of worship have been desecrated at some point, there should be campaigns to restore them.”

Adityanath cited the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya as an example of how temples can be restored at other locations where they were allegedly desecrated.

In December 1992, Hindutva activists led by Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Lal Krishna Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi had demolished the Babri mosque in Ayodhya as they alleged that the religious structure was built on the spot where Hindu deity Rama was born. The demolition ensued decades long legal battle between the mosque management and those who claimed the site to be the birthplace of Rama.

In 2019, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Hindu side and allowed the construction of the Ram temple.

Last year, two new cases of religious site dispute emerged in Uttar Pradesh.

In Mathura, a group of plaintiffs filed a lawsuit seeking the removal of the Shahi Idgah mosque. The plaintiffs claim that the Shahi Idgah mosque was built over the birthplace of the deity Krishna and have staked claim over 13.37 acres of land around the mosque.

In Varanasi, a civil court had allowed for a video survey of the city’s Gyanvapi mosque, which found that an oval object was present on the premises. The mosque committee had said that the object is not a shivling, but a part of a stone fountain in the wazu khana (ablution tank) of the mosque.

The five women petitioners in the case have claimed that an image of Hindu deity Shringar Gauri exists at the back of the western wall of the mosque. They have demanded that they be allowed to offer daily prayers and observe other Hindu rituals at the site.