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The BBC's Satish Jacob in Delhi
Angry opposition members disrupted proceedings in the lower house
 real 28k

Monday, 6 December, 1999, 18:02 GMT
Protest over Ayodhya anniversary
Opposition activists took to the streets of Delhi in protest Opposition activists took to the streets of Delhi in protest

Opposition politicians in India have led protests against the demolition of a mosque by Hindu extremists in the northern town of Ayodhya, seven years ago.

Political activists took to the streets in Delhi and Ayodhya, while opposition MPs disrupted parliament, forcing it to be adjourned.

Let this be a day for opening a new chapter of Hindu-Muslim friendship
BJP minister Syed Shahnawaz Hussain
They heckled Home Minister L K Advani, accusing him of conspiring to raze the mosque.

Mr Advani is one of 49 members of right wing Hindu organisations who was accused by India's federal investigation agency over the destruction of the 16th century mosque.

The BBC's Satish Jacob in Delhi says that although a special court was set up five years ago, not a single hearing has as yet taken place.

Angry protests

Some 300 activists of the Citizens for Secularism, an umbrella organisation of at least 12 groups, marched in the streets of Delhi in protest.

About a hundred Muslims marched as well, holding placards which said: "The jehad will go on, we will rebuild the Babri Masjid [Mosque]."

Muslims led special prayers in Bombay to mark the day Muslims led special prayers in Bombay to mark the day
Meanwhile, the speaker of the lower house of parliament adjourned the house after angry exchanges between opposition and ruling party members.

A member of the right wing Hindu Shiv Sena party sparked off protests after he called the Mughal king Babar an "invader".

The 16th century Mughal emperor is accused by Hindu extremists of building the mosque at Ayodhya after demolishing a temple, commemorating the birthplace of the Hindu god, Ram.

One ally of the governing coalition is said to have suggested that the day be observed as "national integration day".

A BJP junior minister, Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, himself a Muslim, appealed to his community to forget old wounds.

"Let this be a day for opening a new chapter of Hindu-Muslim friendship," he said.

Tight security

Security was strengthened across the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, where Ayodhya is located.

Armed police and paramilitary security personnel were deployed at the disputed site in Ayodhya to prevent violence.

Forty people were arrested as several members from both the Hindu and Muslim communities gathered to hold demonstrations.

Security was also tight in the western metropolis of Bombay, which witnessed some of the worst rioting after the destruction of the mosque.

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See also:
06 Dec 98 |  South Asia
Ayodhya anniversary passes peacefully
03 Jul 98 |  South Asia
Tension increases over Indian temple dispute
16 Jun 98 |  South Asia
BJP raises stakes over Ayodhya
04 Feb 98 |  S/W Asia
BJP attacked for temple pledge

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