Do-it-yourself Hindu temple waits to move into Indian holy site

A Hindu devotee looks at bricks for the proposed Rama temple at a workshop in Ayodhya. (AFP)
Updated 12 November 2019

Do-it-yourself Hindu temple waits to move into Indian holy site

  • Enough stone to build a small mountain was waiting at a complex in the holy city of Ayodhya
  • Activists, priests and pilgrims have since thronged the Nyas Karyashaala workshop, a few kilometers from the contested site

AYODHYA, India: Huge slabs of pink Rajasthan stone, carved pillars and bricks from across India are already waiting to form a Hindu temple to be built on the site of a demolished mosque at the center of decades of deadly turbulence.
Enough stone to build a small mountain was waiting at a complex in the holy city of Ayodhya years before the country’s Supreme Court ruled on Saturday that the site should be handed over to Hindus to build a new temple.
A mosque stood on the site for almost five centuries until it was demolished by Hindu zealots in 1992, sparking riots across the country in which 2,000 people, mainly Muslims, died.
Dozens of stonemasons and artisans have been chipping away at the blocks since an appeal for contributions toward a “grand Hindu temple” in Ayodhya was launched in 1990, without knowing when, or whether, the building would be erected. Cash donations and bricks were sent from around the world.
The workers went back to their home towns and villages just before Saturday’s long-awaited verdict, which said Muslims would get their own land on a new site to build a mosque.
After decades of litigation and religious strife, Hindus rejoiced at the ruling. Activists, priests and pilgrims have since thronged the Nyas Karyashaala workshop, a few kilometers from the contested site where Hindus believe the god Rama was born.
“We never lost faith. We always believed that a grand temple would be built,” Sharad Sharma, a spokesman for the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) said at the site.
“Almost 65 percent of the stone and pillars needed for the temple are ready. Our designs have also been approved by a gathering of religious leaders,” Sharma added.
While there are no officially approved plans for the temple, many believe that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will follow the design prepared by the workshop. The party has close to the leaders of the temple movement.
A model of the “approved” temple is on display at the entry to the noisy workshop.
The new temple would use about 170,000 cubic feet of stone and will be 38 meters (125 feet) tall and 81 meters (270 feet) long, Sharma said.
It will have its own shed for cows — considered by Hindus to be sacred — as well as a huge prayer hall.
“We have planned everything to the last detail. We never stopped our work in the last three decades for a moment like this,” he added.
Media reports have said construction could start as early as next year. The Supreme Court directed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government to form a trust to oversee the planning and building work.
“So many of us dreamed of this moment for decades,” Brijmohan Das, a Hindu holy man associated with the movement said.
“It is finally happening in our lifetime.”


France teacher’s killer had ‘contact’ with militant in Syria

Updated 20 min 14 sec ago

France teacher’s killer had ‘contact’ with militant in Syria

  • Anzorov’s suspected contact had been located through an IP address traced back to Idlib

PARIS: The investigation into the murder in France of a teacher for showing caricature of the Prophet Muhammad in class turned to Syria on Thursday, where the killer had a militant contact, a source close to the case said.
Seven people have been charged with being complicit in a “terrorist murder” after 18-year-old Chechen Abdullakh Anzorov killed Samuel Paty on Friday, including two teenagers who helped him identify the teacher.
France paid homage to Paty on Wednesday, with President Emmanuel Macron saying that the history and geography teacher had been slain by “cowards” for representing the secular, democratic values of the French Republic.
In their search for accomplices, anti-terror investigators have now established that Anzorov had contact with a Russian-speaking militant in Syria whose identity is not yet known, the source told AFP.
Le Parisien newspaper reported on Thursday that Anzorov’s suspected contact had been located through an IP address traced back to Idlib, a militant holdout in northwestern Syria.
In an audio message in Russian immediately after the killing, translated by AFP, Anzorov said that he had “avenged the Prophet” whom the teacher had shown “in an insulting way.”
The message was published on social media in a video, accompanied by two tweets, one showing the victim’s severed head and another in which Anzorov confessed to the murder.
Moments later he was shot dead by police. Anzorov decapitated Paty with a long knife.
Many of Paty’s students saw the images online before they could be taken down.
The teenagers who pointed out Paty to his killer in return for money were late Wednesday charged over the killing.

HIGHLIGHT

Le Parisien newspaper reported on Thursday that Anzorov’s suspected contact had been located through an IP address traced back to Idlib, a militant holdout in northwestern Syria.

The parent of one of Paty’s pupils, who started the social media campaign against the teacher even though his daughter was not in class when the cartoons were shown, was also charged.
Also charged was a known extremist radical who helped the father stir up outrage against Paty.
The other three facing prosecution are friends of Anzorov, one of whom allegedly drove him to the scene of the crime while another accompanied him to purchase a weapon.
Two of them also face c harges of being complicit in terrorist murder while the third was charged with a lesser offense, the anti-terrorist prosecutor’s office said.
Paty, 47, became the target of an online hate campaign over his choice of lesson material — the same images which unleashed a bloody assault by gunmen on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January 2015.
Police have carried out dozens of raids since the crime, while the government has ordered the six-month closure of a mosque outside Paris and dissolved the Sheikh Yassin Collective, a group they said supported Hamas.
The French government has earmarked for dissolution more than 50 other organizations it accuses of having links with extremists.
Paty’s beheading was the second knife attack since a trial of alleged accomplices in the Charlie Hebdo attack started last month.
The killing has prompted an outpouring of emotion in France, with tens of thousands taking part in rallies countrywide in defense of free speech and the right to mock religion.
“We will not give up cartoons,” Macron vowed at a ceremony Wednesday in Paty’s honor at the Sorbonne university in Paris.