In spite of COVID-19 restrictions, the ground breaking ceremony to mark the beginning of the construction of a grand temple, on the ruins of 500 year old Babri Mosque razed to the ground by fanatics in 1992, was held in the North Indian town of Ayodhya, on Wednesday 5 August 2020, ironically on the exact anniversary of dismantling of the Jammu & Kashmir state by the Hindu nationalist BJP government in 2019.

PM Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone joining the stage with Hindu supremacist organisation RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and Islamophobic priest turned politician, UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath.

The beginning of the construction comes after a 135-year-old legal dispute culminated when the Supreme Court, last November, in a controversial verdict claimed to be under political pressure by the ruling BJP, awarded the disputed land to Hindus.

It also comes in the wake of a three-decade-long mobilisation by the ruling Hindu nationalist party and its ideological affiliates including VHP and RSS, and the demolition of the Babri Mosque in 1992,  an act declared illegal by the same Supreme Court verdict, that led to communal violence and deaths in various parts of the country.

Babri Mosque razed to the ground in 1992 by Hindutva fanatics.

All India Muslim Personal Law Board secretary Zafaryab Jilani said the ceremony won’t change the reality and that, for the board, the site would continue to be treated as mosque land.

Police stand guard ahead of the arrival of Indian PM Modi in Ayodhya.

On 5 August 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government stripped Indian-administered Kashmir’s statehood, scrapped its separate constitution and removed inherited protections on land and jobs.

Modi’s move last year was accompanied by a total communication blackout and mass detentions. Some rights groups have been critical of the government’s handling of Kashmir, particularly continuing internet curbs.

“This has been compounded by a censored media, continuing detention of political leaders, arbitrary restrictions due to the pandemic with little to no redressal,” Amnesty International said in a statement on Wednesday 5 August.

China has expressed concern on Indian unilateral move in Kashmir and there have been border clashed during the last few months between Chinese and Indian soldiers in the Ladakh area.

“China is seriously concerned about the current situation in Kashmir and the relevant military actions. We oppose unilateral actions that will complicate the situation,” China’s mission to the UN in New York said in a statement released earlier this week.

 

Kashmir under strict military lockdown for one year 5 August 2019-5 August 2020.