Ayodhya: The Ram Temple trust and the district administration in Ayodhya are installing loudspeakers and LED screens across the town, looking to ensure ‘limited entry’ for the bhoomi pujan (ground-breaking) ceremony of the temple on 5 August so social distancing norms are maintained.
While loudspeakers are being installed on every street, LED screens are being put up at nearly every intersection, said sources in the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, which is the government-appointed body tasked with the temple’s construction.
The Ayodhya administration is also beautifying the streets of the town with paintings of Lord Ram and 3D rangolis.
The organisers are working towards these measures to ensure minimum crowd at the Ram Janmabhoomi site. They are expecting some crowd from outside Ayodhya too due to the emotions attached to the matter, even though the ceremony is planned as an invite-only event. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath are among several high-profile leaders among the invitees.
The event is being planned even as India sees a massive surge in Covid-19 infections. As of Friday, the country has recorded 16,38,870 Covid cases and 35,747 deaths. In Uttar Pradesh, these figures are at 81,039 and 1,587, respectively.
On Thursday, even Ram Janmabhoomi priest Pradeep Das and 14 security personnel at the venue tested Covid positive, creating a scare.
However, the trust’s general secretary, Champat Rai, said Covid guidelines will be fully complied with during the programme and only invitees will be allowed inside the campus. He stressed that this number isn’t fixed yet, though.
“We are appealing to all the outside supporters to not to swell crowding in Ayodhya under the present circumstances created by the Corona epidemic. Please, watch the live telecast of the programme from your homes, decorate your houses and light the lamps in the evening. Our desire of years is going to be fulfilled,” said Rai.
ThePrint reached the Ayodhya district magistrate via calls for a comment but there had been no response till the time of publishing this report.
Measures for the event
A source associated with the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust said complete care will be taken to ensure social distancing during the ground-breaking ceremony.
“There is all kind of preparations to ensure this. Entire nation is closely watching this programme. In such a situation, we would do nothing that can implicate the organisers for being negligent. At the time of bhoomi pujan, only PM Modi and CM Yogi will be there with members of the trust. All other invitees will be kept at a distance,” said the source.
The seating arrangement at the ceremony will ensure a minimum distance between the guests, said the source, adding that less than 200 people will be present on the occasion including some senior BJP leaders and members of the trust, apart from some local saints.
Ram Janmabhoomi head priest Satyendra Das said all the people associated with the temple work are being tested for Covid-19. He said he too got himself tested and the result was negative. The entire campus has been sanitised.
Rai decried some “fake news” being circulated on the social media. “For example, it was said that a time capsule (which would have the entire history of the temple) would be placed under the temple, which is completely fake. Right now, there is no plan like this,” he said.
“Similarly, news items regarding bricks made of gold and silver have also cropped up, and these too are misleading. Again, names of several corporate leaders and other important personalities are being circulated as potential guests. Anything like this has not been decided for now,” he said.
Loudspeakers and rangolis
Ajay Singh, a private contractor who is installing loudspeakers and LEDs in Ayodhya, said he has been instructed to make the installations in a range of 8 to 9 km.
“Extra loudspeakers will be installed in areas like Naya Ghat, Ashrafi Bhawan, Post Office, Maniram Das Ji’s Cantonment, etc. Apart from this, the programme will also be broadcast live through LED screens installed at several important intersections,” he said.
In the town, walls are also being painted from Saket University to Hanuman Garhi with yellow colour dominating the artwork. Wall paintings of Lord Ram and Lakshman can also be seen near Saket University.
Meanwhile, the students of the fine arts and fashion designing departments of Awadh University, Ayodhya, are creating “3D rangolis” at several places. Awadh University Vice-Chancellor Manoj Dixit told ThePrint that the specialty of these rangolis is that flowers are being used more, instead of colours.
Extensive preparations are also going on for lighting arrangements at the Saryu Ghat.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad member Prakash Sharma said the grandeur of this event will be showcased through “simplicity” instead of pomposity. VHP volunteers are also working towards organising the programme.
Iqbal Ansari says not invited
While preparations for the event going on, Iqbal Ansari, one of the main litigants in the Babri Masjid case, told ThePrint that he hasn’t received any invitation so far, but would attend event if called. Ansari was reported to have been invited.
According to him, he respects the decision of the Supreme Court. He wants everyone to live peacefully and wishes for tourism to increase after completion of the Ram Temple construction.
Opposition leaders have also not been invited to the event. However, they have resolved to maintain a “silence” on the issue to avoid its politicisation ahead of the assembly elections in 2022.