The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sangh steps up temple tempo

Ayodhya, March 13: The Sangh parivar today gave notice of whipping up temple hysteria as the slow-paced excavations at the disputed site continued for the second day.

As if working to a plan, over 100 Bajrang Dal activists landed last night at Karsevakpuram — the centre of VHP activities in the town — and took out a cycle march to the disputed shrine this morning, shouting “mandir yaheen banayenge” (we’ll construct the temple at this very spot).

The Bajrang Dal activists marched up to the heavily-barricade entry point of the disputed site and then walked in unison for a darshan of Ram Lalla.

Though VHP local secretary Ramphal Singh maintained that the influx of Bajrang Dal activists did not signify intensification of the temple movement in the immediate future, their tone and bearing made the representatives of Muslim organisations nervous.

“This smacks of an attempt to influence the ASI team and whip up mass hysteria even before the excavation is complete and its findings known,” said an official of the Central Sunni Waqf Board.

Sources in the Archaeological Survey of India, which has been asked by Allahabad High Court to ascertain whether a temple existed beneath the demolished Babri Masjid, indicated that the court may be asked for more time to complete the job.

In its March 5 order asking the ASI to excavate the site, the court had ordered the work to be completed within a month. “Seeing the magnitude of the work involved, this may be a Herculean task, especially as Muharram and Holi festivals are approaching,” an ASI official said.

The ASI today marked two more spots for excavation, besides the four marked yesterday. Those present at the excavation site said the ASI team was making gradual progress on the outer portion of the chabutara (platform) — on which Ram’s idol is placed — opposite the makeshift structure.

“They could dig up to six to eight inches by the end of the second day and nothing has been found till now,” said a representative of one of the litigants present during the excavation.

Though the ASI team today requisitioned 12 more labourers, only 23 of them were actually engaged in the digging. “The rest concentrated on removing the debris from the excavation site,” said Dev Dutt Dubey, the labour contractor engaged by the district administration to assist the ASI team.

In a new development, a petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the excavation order. Naved Yarkhan, who filed the petition in his “personal” capacity as an Indian citizen, sought a stay on the order. Yarkhan contended that the high court’s directive violated the Supreme Court order on maintenance of “status quo” at the disputed site till the disposal of the title suits.

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