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Ayodhya, India - For the past week, Indian authorities have been vigorously engaged in giving Ayodhya, a small temple town in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, a quick makeover in advance of Prime Minister Narendra Modis visit to lay the foundation stone for a temple to Hindu deity Ram.

The temple is being built in place of a Mughal-era mosque, which was demolished by a right-wing Hindu mob in 1992, triggering nationwide religious riots in which more than 2,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed.

Many Hindus believe the 16th-century Babri Masjid, named after Mughal emperor Babur (1483-1530), was built at the place where Ram was born in Ayodhya, located about 135km (84 miles) east of the state capital, Lucknow.

Last November, a decades-old protracted legal battle between the Hindu and Muslim parties ended with the Supreme Court awarding the contested site to Hindu petitioners, handing the BJP a victory to drive home its Hindu nationalist agenda.

With the inauguration of the temple scheduled for August 5 despite concerns due to the coronavirus, Modis BJP appears to have fulfilled a long-term promise to its core electorate.

The judgement was widely criticised for lacking a sound legal basis as well as signalling a majoritarian push that compromised on Indias secular and democratic constitutional ethics.

Ironically, the legal trial in the Babri demolition case is yet to be completed, and justice has eluded those who suffered the loss of life and properties in the nationwide violence that ensued in the wake of the destruction of the mosque - often dubbed the darkest chapter of modern India.

Modis government has faced both domestic and global criticism for deliberately neglecting its vast Muslim minority, numbering nearly 200 million. The Ayodhya verdict has only cemented this opinion among its opponents and critics.

The date chosen for the ceremony also coincides with the first anniversary of the abrogation of the special status of Indian-administered Kashmir, Indias only Muslim majority region that has been the theatre of a bloody armed rebellion for more than 30 years.

This aggressive posturing over issues that have dominated the BJPs politics has raised concerns of Ayodhya-like campaigns in other places with shared Hindu-Muslim heritage and history as well.

MR Shamshad, a lawyer who represented Muslim parties in the temple-mosque legal dispute, says "already there are efforts by Hindu groups to reclaim other temples that they believe were converted into mosques".

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the parent body of the BJP, has led the movement for the Ram temple since 1984.

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