BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Urdu Hindi Pashto Bengali Tamil Nepali Sinhala
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: South Asia  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Tuesday, 18 February, 2003, 17:50 GMT
Hindu activists arrested in religious dispute
Muslim women join men in protesting against hardline Hindus
Tensions between Muslims and Hindus have risen
Police in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh have arrested around 150 hardline Hindu activists for allegedly forcing their way into a disputed religious monument.

President Abdul Kalam
President Kalam urged restraint on both sides

Firing tear gas, police managed to repel up to 500 others when they tried to force their way in.

The incident happened in an area called Bhojshala, in the state's Dhar district, about 100 miles south-west of the capital Bhopal.

The Hindu mob tried to rush to the site after an announcement by the group, Hindu Jagran Manch, that it intended to enter the disputed structure.

Both Hindus and Muslims claim the 11th century monument as their own.

Rising tensions

District authorities in Dhar say the situation remains tense but is under control.

Ashok Singhal
Ashok Singhal: Keen to build a temple at Ayodhya

Hindus say the place was a university dedicated to teaching ancient Sanskrit while Muslims say the place belongs to them because it houses the remains of a holy ascetic.

According to a 1997 order, Muslims are allowed to offer prayers every Friday and Hindus are allowed to worship goddess Saraswati inside the complex once a year.

The Hindu Jagran Manch has been agitating for the right to pray at the site at any time.

Correspondents say hardline Hindus allied to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have become more vocal since their victory in the Gujarat state elections last year.

Restraint urged

One group, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), has been demanding permission to build a temple at the site of a mosque in the northern Ayodhya town its activists pulled down in 1992.

Following that incident, thousands of people, mostly Muslims, were killed in riots and the Supreme Court has been considering the site's future ever since.

VHP leader Ashok Singhal has warned that his group will decide later this month whether to ignore the court and go ahead with building a temple by force.

This raised tensions between the two communities and President Abdul Kalam urged restraint and respect for the law to all sides in his annual speech to parliament on Monday.

On Tuesday, influential Hindu religious figure, Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati, told reporters in Hyderabad that everyone should abide by the court's verdict.

Ayodhya special report

Ten years on

Background

Pictures and images

TALKING POINT

AUDIO VIDEO

BBC WORLD SERVICE
See also:

18 Feb 03 | South Asia
14 Feb 03 | South Asia
06 Feb 03 | South Asia
07 Mar 02 | South Asia
24 Feb 00 | South Asia
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more South Asia stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more South Asia stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes