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Saturday, 9 March, 2002, 14:34 GMT
Call for army at Ayodhya site
Ashok Singhal with temple plans
Hindu hardliners want to press ahead with the temple
The authorities in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh have asked for the army to be deployed in the town of Ayodhya, where Hindu hardliners plan to build a temple on a disputed site.

A written request to that effect has been sent to the central government, according to Defence Minister George Fernandes.

He said there had been a number of requests to that effect by telephone in the past few days.

"But since [Friday] night, they have become intense", he added.

In 1992, Hindu extremists tore down a mosque at the Ayodhya site, sparking communal riots which left some 2,000 people dead.

Construction deadline

Hardline Hindu groups have set 15 March as the deadline for reaching agreement on construction of a temple on the Ayodhya site, after which they say they will go ahead regardless.

Ayodhya security check
Security is already very heavy
They say the site is the birthplace of the Hindu god, Lord Rama.

A local official in the Ayodhya area, AK Gupta, said army units would remain on alert, but were not being deployed at the moment.

Security around the site is currently in the hands of the police and special paramilitary forces.

Restrictions have been imposed on road and rail links to Ayodhya after last week's Hindu-Muslim violence in Gujarat state, in which the death toll now stands at over 700.

That was sparked when Muslims attacked a train carrying Hindu activists back from a trip to Ayodhya.

Compromise attempt

Talks have been under way in Delhi over the past few days to try to work out a compromise on the issue.

One idea reportedly being discussed is for the hardline Hindu group, the VHP, to carry out a symbolic religious ceremony at the disputed site on 15 March.

The group has been at the forefront of demands to build a temple on the Ayodhya site.

The land in the disputed complex was taken over by the government in 1992, and is currently awaiting a final ruling on its status by the Indian courts.

Ayodhya special report

Ayodhya eyewitness

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BBC WORLD SERVICE
 VOTE RESULTS
Should plans to build the Ayodhya temple be called off?

Yes
 66.79% 

No
 33.21% 

19422 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

07 Mar 02 | South Asia
Hindu hardliners 'will abide by court'
05 Mar 02 | South Asia
Hindu hardliners 'agree compromise'
05 Mar 02 | South Asia
Analysis: Why is Gujarat so violent?
14 Feb 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: India
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