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 Friday, 6 December, 2002, 16:06 GMT
Ayodhya anniversary passes peacefully
Hindu fundamentalists attack Babri mosque in 1992
The mosque demolition sparked widespread violence
The 10th anniversary of the destruction of a mosque in India by Hindu mobs has passed without major incident.

The demolition of the Babri mosque in the northern city of Ayodhya on 6 December 1992 triggered bloody riots nationwide in which more than 2,000 people died.

We have stepped up security in and around the core area of the makeshift temple

Senior state official Alok Kumar
To prevent a recurrence of violence, thousands of security personnel were mobilised at potential flashpoints across the country.

Security was especially tight in Bombay - also known as Mumbai - where the worst rioting took place in 1992 and where a bomb on a city bus earlier this week killed two and injured many others.

A blast at a McDonald's restaurant in Bombay's central railway station on Friday injured 17 people, but police say it appears to have been an accident caused by an exploding gas cylinder.

Muslim festival

  • 1. Proposed Ram temple
  • 2. Site where VHP placed symbolic pillar
  • 3. Site of demolished mosque

    Click here to read more about the disputed site

  • Authorities said elaborate security arrangements were in place in the temple city itself. More than 1,000 armed police have been guarding the disputed religious site around the clock.

    Police said that they had taken even more precautions this year because the anniversary coincides with the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

    But because the new moon has not yet been sighted in Ayodhya and its twin town of Faizabad, Eid will not celebrated there until Saturday.

    Muslims in these towns observed the day as a "black day" and one of the mosques near the disputed site in Ayodhya was covered with black cloth.

    Poor turnout

    "We want peace in Ayodhya and I am confident that with outsiders keeping away, there will be no trouble," Mahant Nritya Gopaldas, a leading Hindu monk, told Reuters news agency.

    The hardline Hindu group, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) held a meeting in its headquarters in Ayodhya but a BBC correspondent says the turnout was poor compared to previous occasions.

    The VHP had announced it would hold a rally in the city of Ahmedabad, the commercial capital of western Gujarat state, which was engulfed by religious violence earlier this year.

    But with elections taking place in Gujarat next week, India's electoral commission has restricted the nature of rallies allowed in the state.

    Two smaller rallies have been allowed to go ahead, at which VHP President Ashok Singhal was due to speak.

    Troops and police were also out in force at two religious sites in the northern towns of Mathura and Varanasi.

    Temple plans

    Hindu holy man in Ayodhya
    Hindus say Ayodhya is one of their holiest sites

    Hindu hardliners want to construct a temple on the site of the ruins of the Babri Mosque.

    They say it marks the site of the birthplace of the revered god Lord Rama, while Muslims say the mosque that stood there was built by one of India's Mughal emperors.

    The status of the site is currently the subject of lengthy court hearings to decide who owns the land.

    Attention is now turning to the state elections in Gujarat next week.

    The state witnessed India's worst religious violence in a decade earlier this year, after 50 Hindu pilgrims died when their train was set alight, allegedly by Muslims.

    In the riots that followed, at least 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed, although independent accounts put the figure at 2,000.

      The BBC's Adam Mynott
    "Hindu fanatics have dubbed it victory day"
    Ayodhya special report

    Ten years on


    Pictures and images



    See also:

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