India’s Hindu right intensifies a religious battle over a demolished mosque

Source: The Washington Post

 The mob of Hindu fundamentalists brought down the mosque in just a few hours, using pickaxes, rope and their bloody, bare hands. Dust swirled above the rubble, smoke from nearby torched homes soured the air, and 16 Muslims lay dead, the first of about 2,000 people who would die in riots across India in the days to come.


Twenty-five years ago, Hindus tore down the Babri mosque in this northern Indian town believed to be the birthplace of the Hindu god Lord Ram, shaking secular India to its foundations. In the years since, Ayodhya — its name now synonymous with strife — has become a magnet for fundamentalist Hindu leaders who want a soaring sandstone temple dedicated to Ram to be built where the mosque once stood.

They are finding new energy as India’s Supreme Court prepares to begin hearing arguments this week in a decades-old title dispute over the holy site, with Hindu leaders planning a high-profile whistle-stop campaign and religious events across India. And they feel they have strong support with the party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist, in office at the state and national level.

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