Thousands of VHP, Shiv Sena and RSS workers have descended upon Ayodhya for 'Dharam Sabha', demanding prompt construction of Ram temple on disputed land. The state government has covered city with a thick security cover to avoid any untoward incident, during the vent which is likely to see speeches, marches and Ram Janambhoomi visits by several Hindutva leaders.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who is among the leaders at the front of the Dharam Sabha, on Sunday upped the ante against its old ally Bharatiya Janata Party on the matter of Ram Temple construction in Ayodhya. Shiv Sena chief, who is on two-day visit to the holy city, told media that if the government failed to build the temple soon it will not comeback to the power, 'temple however will still be built', he said.
Thackeray was talking to media after visiting the Ram Janambhoomi site with his family. The Maratha leader claimed that visiting 'Ram Lalla' at the site feels like a trip to high-security prison.
Shiv Sena chief slammed BJP government's slogan 'Mandir wahin banayenge' (Will construct temple there) and demanded a definitive timeline of the project. The Sena chief arrived in Ayodhya on Saturday evening with his wife Rashmi and son Aditya amidst slogans of "Jai Shri Ram". In the evening, he offered prayers on the banks of Saryu river and today morning he visited the Ram Janabhoomi.
Here are the highlights
18:40 pm: Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad alleged Sunday, and said he will visit the temple town on Monday to urge the authorities to ensure that the rule of law prevails. Referring to the renaming spree of the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh, he said the Yogi Adityanath dispensation should rechristen Ayodhya to Saket, claiming it was the "name of the area during the Buddhist time". "What is happening in Ayodhya right now is nothing but another attempt by the BJP and the Sangh Parivar to whip up communal frenzy, instigate violence and then use the bloodshed to polarise voters to benefit the party in the 2019 elections," Azad alleged.
18:00 pm: Terming VHP's "Dharm Sabha" and visit of Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackerey to Ayodhya an open "challenge" to Supreme Court, All India Muslim Personal law Board (AIMPLB) Sunday said a situation is being created against the Muslims. "It is not the matter of giving a mosque but its a matter of principle that how many mosques will we have to sacrifice gradually. If we talk to someone, it will withdraw and another one will come.
"Sri Sri Ravishankar had offered that we should construct a big mosque outside Ayodhya. But later he cornered himself. Just imagine, what had happened, we entered into an agreement with him," AIMPLB General Secretary Maulana Wali Rehmani said while talking to PTI.
"VHP's dharm sansad and visit of Thackerey and similar such programmes, a situation is being created against Muslims and its also an open challenge to the judiciary (SC)," he said.
17:40 pm: The matter is in Court, the decision should be given early. It has also been proved that the Temple was there. Supreme Court is not giving priority to the case. Justice delayed is justice denied: RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat at Hunkar Sabha in Nagpur.
17:30 pm: Besides Ayodhya, VHP rallies are also being held in Nagpur and Bengaluru. Addressing rally in Nagpur, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat made a strong pitch for construction of Ram Temple. He also urged the government to bring in legislation for the construction of Ram temple.
17:20 pm: The All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM) on Sunday wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind, seeking his urgent intervention into the developments in Ayodhya, where the VHP has organised a public meeting to press for construction of a Ram temple. An umbrella body of more than a dozen Muslim religious and social organisations, the AIMMM said in its letter that the presence of "unruly mobs" in Ayodhya is a clear pointer to the way things are moving in an unchecked manner in Uttar Pradesh. "If any attempt is made to forcibly change the status quo at the disputed site at Ayodhya, it would tantamount to a gross violation of the orders of the Supreme Court," AIMMM chief Navid Hamid said in the letter. It said the lives and safety of thousands of innocent people were at stake and alleged that the Uttar Pradesh government was displaying "total negligence of its responsibility" to maintain peace in the state. Hamid said the state government cannot abdicate its constitutional responsibility of protecting all citizens.
04:00 pm: Swami Bhadhracharya, quoting a senior Union minister, claimed that the government will take a key decision after December 11. They could not do anything so far due to ongoing model code of conduct due to state assembly polls.
02:27 pm: The case is in the SC, we should either wait for orders or find consensus. Government has a lot of land, it (Ram temple) could be constructed across the Sarayu river. There should be no talks of temple on a disputed land: Shivpal Yadav, Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party Lohia in Lucknow
02:04 pm: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat expected to address the VHP rally in Ayodhya later today.
01:50 pm: Ayodhya has been divided into zones. Security scheme has been implemented. Red zone and yellow zone are two main security zones. State govt, state police and administration are committed to uphold the directions by the Supreme Court and High Court. Heavy deployment of CAPF (Central Armed Police Forces), PAC (Provincial Armed Constabulary), ATS (Anti-Terrorism Squad) has been done. Drone cameras being used to assess crowd. Thirteen parking spots have been designated, 2000 buses from various places have come to Ayodhya: ADG (law and order) Anand Kumar
01:15 pm: When the Ayodhya matter was being heard in SC, the Congress' Rajya Sabha MPs told the court that the case should be postponed till 2019 general elections. Is it correct to drag nation's court into the politics?: PM Narendra Modi on Ayodhya dispute during poll rally Rajasthan's Alwar
12:16 pm: Everyone's going there due to elections. Who stopped Uddhav Thackeray from going there in past four-five years? On one hand, they are friends with BJP and on the other they want to tell people they are interested in constructing Ram Temple and are pressurising govt. People won't be befooled: M Kharge, Congress
12:14 pm: How can Shiv Sena hijack the Ram Mandir issue? The people who thrash north Indians and drive them out, who don’t even have the mentality to serve humanity, how will they serve lord Ram?: BJP MLA Surendra Singh
12:05 pm: Senior VHP leader Champat Rai says saints have rejected the land distribution formulae for Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute. We need full land, Rai tells public meeting.
12:00 pm: VHP Dharam Sabha begins in Ayodhya with clarion call for Ram Temple construction 'on entire disputed land'. Supporters seen with banners of 'yachna nahin rann hoga' (crusade and not request)
11:25 am: Shiv Sena has no role in Ram Temple: UP Dy CM
Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya Sunday disapproved of the Shiv Sena's push for constructing a Ram temple here, saying the party had no role in the temple movement. "There is no problem in Uddhav Thackeray catching a glimpse of Ram Lalla... But, had Balasaheb Thackeray been alive, he would have prevented Uddhav from doing whatever he is doing,” Maurya told PTI on the phone.
“The Shiv Sena had no role in the temple movement or even in the Dharam Sabha, though Balasaheb Thackeray would support the Vishwa Hindu Parishad,” he said. He said Uddhav Thackeray should take the VHP, "which is leading such a large-scale movement, along with his party. There is no point creating a divide".
The deputy chief minister, who was part of the VHP during the Ram temple movement, said, “The devotees of Lord Ram know who can actually make a sacrifice now and who had made a sacrifice earlier.” Maurya also denounced Akhilesh Yadav's statement that the Army must be deployed for the Dharam Sabha, saying the remarks showed the Samajwadi Party chief's frustration. (Read full story here)
10:51 am: If the government accepts that they will not build the temple then we will build it: Shiv Sena chief
10:50 am: In 2014, BJP had promised that after coming to power they will explore all options to make the temple, but did they? If they cannot make the temple then they should say so: Thackeray
10:49 am: Today's government is very powerful. If the temple is not constructed now, this government will not come into power. The Ram temple will still however be built: Thackeray
10:49 am: Shiv Sena has always been supporting the decision to construct Ram Mandir and we will support any law brought in this regard. Bring law or ordinance to make temple at earliest Uddhav Thackeray tells govt after visiting Ram Janambhoomi
10:48 am: The BJP government has been using Ram Temple as a political issue but they forget once they are elected. They must give us a date. Saying that it will be built soon will not suffice anymore: Thackeray
10:48 am: Today's government is very powerful. If the temple is not constructed now, this government will not come into power. The Ram temple will still however be built: Thackeray
10:47 am: It is unfortunate that it is taking so long to construct Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. It feels like you are visiting : Shiv Sena chief
10:46 am: There is no hidden agenda in my Ayodhya visit. I have come here because of religious beliefs . I am here not to hurt anyone but to protect the interests of Indians who are waiting for the Ram Temple: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray
9:58 am: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray returns to the hotel after visiting the Ram Lalla temple
9:30 am: Uddhav Thackeray, along with his family, pays homage to Lord Ram
9:10 am: We’ve made all the arrangements for the programme (VHP’s dharma sansad). We’ve allotted spaces for parking, bypass is running smoothly & we’ll ensure it stays like that. ‘Darshan’ will be from the usual routes. We’ll do everything in an organized way: DIG Ayodhya, Omkar Singh
8:43 am: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray leaves for darshan of Ram Lalla
8:22 am: Uddhav Thackeray to return for Mumbai at 3 pm
7:53 am: Uddhav Thackeray will address a public gathering at 12 pm
6:35 am: Uddhav Thackeray will address a press conference at 11 am
6:30 am: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will go for a darshan of Ram Lalla at 9 am
Thackeray mocks Modi govt over Ram temple:
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, on Saturday, asked the Narendra Modi government to wake up from a “Kumbhakarna-like slumber” and declare the date for its construction.
“I have come here to awaken the Kumbhakarana,” he said, indirectly comparing Modi, or his government, to the Ramayana character known for sleeping for months at a stretch. “Today's Kumbhakarna has been sleeping for the past four years," he said.
The Sena, which has demanded expediting the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya by promulgating an ordinance to the effect, is believed to have sent some 3,000 Shiv Sena supporters by two trains from Maharashtra.
The cadres who have already arrived in Ayodhya first took a dip in the Saryu river and then prayed at Ram Lalla and Hanuman Garhi, Sena sources said.
The Shiv Sena chief is reported to have brought a pot full of soil from the Shivneri fort in Pune, which will be handed over to the priest at the Ram janmabhoomi when he meets him.
This is Thackeray's first visit to Ayodhya and party leaders, including MP, Sanjay Raut, and others had been camping in Ayodhya for the last few days to make preparations for the visit.
VHP’s show of strength:
The temple town will also witness another major congregation of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists on Sunday who will be taking part in a Dharam Sabha. The VHP claimed three lakh people, including seers, will attend its public meeting, which has triggered some apprehension over the safety of the town’s Muslim community.
Samajwadi Party and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav said the Army should be deployed in Ayodhya, if needed, to maintain law and order.
Security has been tightened at the disputed site with thousands of police and paramilitary personnel keeping a watch over the sensitive place.
On the security arrangements in Ayodhya, Additional Director General law and order, Anand Kumar said the Supreme Court guidelines will be maintained in and around the disputed site.
Ayodhya has been divided in 16 sectors and a security scheme is under force, Kumar said, adding that additional force has been deployed for maintaining law and order and efforts are on to ensure that the events pass off peacefully.
Barriers have been erected to regulate the surging crowd in the temple town and magistrates have been posted there. If some people want to have darshans of the Ram Lalla they can do it as per the traditions and guidelines.
Everyone will have to adhere to the Supreme Court guidelines, he said adding, that necessary steps have been taken to deal with all circumstances.
WATCH VIDEO: Uddhav Thackeray performs 'maha aarti' on banks of river Sarayu
(With inputs from agencies)