An overwhelming majority of people from both Hindu and Muslim communities in Ayodhya say that the Ram temple should be built where the Babri mosque once stood so that the pilgrimage town “rediscovers itself as a glorious city”.

As Kishan Lal, a small shop owner on the banks of the Sarayu river, asks, “If not here, where will the temple be built?” “This is the birthplace of Lord Ram and nothing can be a better place than Ayodhya to have a Ram temple. Do you see any animosity in the air of Ayodhya? Everybody here wants a peaceful solution,” Lal added.

Another sweetshop owner at the Hanumangarhi temple, just a kilometre from the
disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site, said, “Everybody, including Muslim friends in Ayodhya, feels that a peaceful solution should be brought about to build the Ram temple. Nobody here, and I am sure people from across the country, wants to shed any more blood in the name of religion.”

Many here also say that now that the Bharatiya Janata Party is in power at both the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh, work for building the temple should start this year itself.

Muslims in Ayodhya and Faizabad too want the dispute settled amicably. Nizamuddin Khan, a taxi driver in Ayodhya, tells this correspondent that they have had enough of this political “drama” and want to see a solution soon: “The Muslim community here does not want any fights. If a temple has to be built, just build it and finish this controversy. People here are very poor and if a temple generates tourists and income, we will be more than happy to support it. At the end of the day, political parties will not come to feed us; we will have to fend for ourselves, therefore, we cannot fall for their petty politics.”

On a visit to the Karsevakpuram on a cold winter morning, some five karsevaks are seen sitting around a bonfire and sipping their morning tea, talking about how and when the construction of the Ram temple will begin. These five men, most of them from Gujarat, have been working here for the last 15 years. The site of Karsevakpuram workshop, located some 3 km from the disputed site of Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid, has been housing thousands and thousands of bricks that have been donated by people from across the country and even from different parts of the world.

Not only this, people at the workshop have also carved hundreds of stones donated by people and some brought in from Rajasthan and made into beautiful structures ready to be put up as ceilings and columns as and when construction at the site begins.

Annubhai Sompura, who belongs to Gujarat, tells The Sunday Guardian, “The construction of Ram temple will begin. I am hopeful that it will start from this year itself. We have been working here for the last 15 years and now that BJP governments are there at both the state and the Centre, we believe that the construction of the temple will now begin. This is the best time to start it.”

He adds that 70%-80% of the work has been completed at the workshop and it will take just two or three years to build the temple.

After going through almost six layers of security checks, conducted by both state police and paramilitary forces, this correspondent enters the fortified area of the disputed site. At the site is a makeshift structure erected to house the idol of Ram Lalla, Sita, Bharat and Laxman. The area is highly secured and a distance of almost 40 feet is to be maintained between the Lord and his devotees and heavy iron grills are there to keep the devotees at a distance.

Even the security people here say that the Ram temple should be built to put an end to the controversy forever.

On the condition of anonymity, a senior police officer on duty at the site tells The Sunday Guardian, “I wanted to spend the last few years of my professional life in the service of Ram Lalla and I am happy that I have been able to do this. This site has created a lot of problems and we all hope it shall not be repeated.”

As Shiraj Quershi, a Supreme Court advocate, says, “The Quran does not allow us to build mosques at disputed sites. We have to respect the sanctity of a mosque and respect the basic conditions laid out for its construction. Let Hindus build the temple here as it’s a matter of their faith. A temple will also bring commercial benefits. We can build a mosque at a different location. We should put an end to this impasse forever.”

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