The Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, formed to facilitate construction of a Ram temple at the site where the Babri Masjid once stood, announced Wednesday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be attending the “bhoomi pujan” of the temple site in Ayodhya on August 5.
Swami Govind Dev Giri, treasurer of the Trust, told media persons that the Trust had invited the Prime Minister for the “bhoomi pujan” and he had accepted it and would be reaching Ayodhya on August 5.
He said the “bhoomi pujan” would be around noon and before that, the Prime Minister would offer prayers at Hanuman Garhi and the makeshift temple of the idol of Ramlalla.
Keeping in mind the social distancing requirement, a total of 200 people, including 150 invitees, would be allowed for the “bhoomi pujan”, he said.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Kamal Nayan Das, spokesperson for Trust chairman Nritya Gopal Das, said: “Govind Giri is a senior member and we will go with his words.” He said on August 5, the “muhurat” (auspicious moment) will be for 32 seconds at 12.15 pm.
Kameshwar Chaupal, another Trust member, said: “It was decided at the Trust meeting that not more than 200 people would be invited to the event in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.” While he maintained he was not aware of the PMO decision, he said, “our preparations have begun”.
On July 18, the Trust said it had sent two dates, August 3 and August 5, to the Prime Minister and he could choose either for the “bhoomi pujan”.
Incidentally, August 5 will mark one year of the abrogation of Article 370 and the bifurcation of the State of Jammu & Kashmir into two Union Territories.
Article 370 and the Ram temple were two ideological issues that the BJP, in the NDA’s earlier avatar under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had been forced to place on the backburner due to coalition compulsions.
In November 2019, three months after the abrogation of Article 370, a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court directed that the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site be handed over to a Centre-appointed Trust for construction of a temple and Muslims be given an alternate 5-acre site for a mosque.
Emerging from the July 18 Trust meeting, Champat Rai, general secretary of the Trust, said engineering and construction major L&T was collecting soil from a depth of 60 feet at the proposed temple site for tests.