Within 12 hours of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ardent appeal to the nation to stay indoors, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath was seen attending an early morning ritual in Ayodhya on Wednesday. Modi on Tuesday night had announced a nationwide lockdown for 21 days and cautioned: “If we are not able to manage the upcoming 21 days [of lockdown] we will be pushed back by 21 years.”
The ritual that the chief minister participated in was to shift the idol of the deity Ram from a tin shed, inside the space considered to be the birthplace, to a temporary structure made of fibre. The idol will remain there till a temple is built at the site, reported NDTV.
“The first phase of construction of the grand Ram temple was completed today...,” Adityanath tweeted at 6.45 am. “The idol has been moved to a temporary structure near Manas Bhawan. For the construction of a grand temple, a cheque of Rs 11 lakh was presented.”
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In a landmark ruling in November, the Supreme Court said the disputed land in Ayodhya would be assigned to a trust that will oversee the construction of a Ram temple there. The court also ruled that the Muslim parties will be allotted five acres of land at another plot in Ayodhya to compensate for the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992. The alternate spot was a point of controversy because some of the Muslim litigants in the case had said it was too far away from Ayodhya.
A meeting to decide the actual date of the beginning of construction was to be held early in April, but the status of it remains unclear at the moment.
Last week, the Uttar Pradesh government had said the centuries-old Ram Navami Mela will be held in Ayodhya despite advisories against large gatherings in an effort to contain the coronavirus pandemic. However, it was called off after the administration drew flak for going ahead with the event, ThePrint had reported.
Champat Rai, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s international secretary and general secretary of the temple trust, had said: “This disease is spreading due to human to human contact. This is a century old Ram Navami festival but keeping the welfare of society in mind, we are cancelling this congregation. We want to protect our children and societies.”
Meanwhile, India’s health ministry has confirmed 562 cases of the virus. Of these, 512 cases are active. Nine people have died due to the virus, according to the ministry’s latest update. However, the death of one more person in Tamil Nadu has not been confirmed yet, which will take the toll to 10.
The pandemic has infected 4,21,792 people globally, and killed 18,883 across 169 countries or territories, according to an estimate by Johns Hopkins University.