Indore Mayor Pushyamitra Bhargava on Monday told malls and shops in the city to install replicas of the Ram temple being built in Ayodhya, while warning that the residents of the city “know how to respond to those who fail to co-operate”, the Hindustan Times reported.

Fifteen days earlier, the mayor had written to all shopkeepers and mall administrations to install the replica between January 15 and January 21. The consecration ceremony of the Ram temple in Ayodhya will be held on January 22.

The temple is being built on the site of the razed Babri mosque. The Babri mosque was demolished by Hindutva extremists on December 6, 1992, because they believed that it stood on the spot on which the deity Ram had been born.

At a press conference on Monday, the mayor said that some people had objected to his “request” to install the replicas.

“I want to tell these people that if Santa Claus and Christmas trees can be installed from December 25 to January 2 and you have no objection to that, then no one should have any objection to installing a replica of the Ram Mandir,” Bhargava said.

He added: “No one should have any objection in doing so and if people do not cooperate in this Rammay Utsav [celebration of Lord Ram] without any reason, then the people of Indore know how to respond to them. This is the work of Ram. It is the work for Ramrajya. I don’t think anyone should have any objection to this.”

On his statement, Bhargava told The Times of India that he neither instigated the residents nor issued any threats. “It’s just a public appeal as if they can erect Santa Claus and a Christmas tree, what is wrong in erecting the replica of Ram” he said.

The mayor said that he meant to say that if somebody does not erect the replica, “people are watching them”.