India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the foundation-laying ceremony for a Hindu temple on a site contested by Muslims for decades Wednesday (August 5), saying the wait of centuries has ended.
Deadly riots destroyed a mosque on the site nearly thirty years ago.
Modi was accompanied by two prominent Muslims who live in the northern Indian town of Ayodhya, where Modi’s Hindu nationalist party have led the demands for a temple.
The visit was intended to show the two communities have healed old wounds.
The Supreme Court gave the Hindu temple the green light last year.
In an elaborate ceremony, Modi laid a plaque dedicated to the god-king Ram, believed to be a physical incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu.
"This temple of Shri Ram will become the modern symbol of our culture. I am using the word 'modern' deliberately. It will be the symbol of our perennial faith, nationalism. This temple will also be symbolic of the united strength of millions."
The region is one of India’s most communally sensitive and in 1992 a Hindu gang destroyed the 16th-century Babri Mosque on the site.
That triggered clashes which saw about 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, killed.
Barricades were put up across the town with a heavy police presence in place, as authorities try to limit the number of visitors to maintain social distancing.