Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is taking part in the groundbreaking ceremony for a controversial Hindu temple today. Modi symbolically laid a 40-kilogram (88 pounds) silver brick foundation stone, to formally start the construction of a temple dedicated to the Hindu deity Ram in the city of Ayodhya in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The Ram temple is being built on the site of a mosque that was demolished in 1992. The mosque’s demolition led to riots across India, killing about 2,000 people. Ayodhya is widely believed by Hindus to be the birthplace of Hindu deity Ram. The site of the temple was formerly occupied by a 16th century mosque, the Babri Masjid, built by Mughal emperor Babur.
About 175 guests are attending the event, including 135 saints from India and Nepal. The former litigant in the case over the land allocation, Iqbal Ansari, is also taking part in the event. Two of the priests conducting daily rituals at the temple site have tested positive for COVID-19, along with four police officers in the area.
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