A prominent Hindu priest, Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati, announced he plans to hold a ceremony in Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh state) on Thursday, February 21, where he intends to lay the cornerstone of a temple to Lord Rama. The ceremony, dubbed Ishtika Nyas, will be preceded by a march from Prayagraj beginning Thursday, February 10. Saraswati's proposed temple is on the site of Babri Mosque that was razed in 1992 by a Hindu mob and is currently under government control. Supporters of the temple have indicated their intention to defy government orders and face arrest. Localized transportation and business disruptions are possible at the site of the demonstration and along march routes. Clashes with security forces are also possible.
A mob destroyed the Babri Mosque in 1992, sparking violence across the country that led to the deaths of at least 2000 people. Some claim the mosque, which was built in 1528, was constructed over the location of a Hindu temple. According to Hindus, the site is the birthplace of Rama, a Hindu deity.
Individuals in Ayodhya, and Uttar Pradesh more generally, are advised to monitor the situation, anticipate public demonstrations and a heightened security presence, and avoid all demonstrations due to the risk of violence and arrest.
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