‘Ready to face bullets for Ram temple’

Prayagraj: Religious leader Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati on Wednesday said a ceremony to mark the start of construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya will take place on 21 February, even if those gathering there have to ‘face bullets’.

The date for the planned ceremony, akin to a ‘shilanyas’, was announced at the end of a three-day congregation of seers at the Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj.

The announcement comes a day after the Centre filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking permission to transfer ‘surplus’ land adjacent to the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site to its original owners. The ‘dharamadesh’ (edict) issued by the Dwarka Peeth Shankaraharya after the ‘Dharam Sansad’ urged Hindus to reach Ayodhya carrying four bricks each.

The planned ceremony is being called ‘Ishtika Nyas’, or the laying of bricks. The Shankaracharya said the sadhus will begin their march to Ayodhya from Prayagraj after Basant Panchami, which falls on 10 February.

According to news agency PTI, he said they were ‘ready to face bullets.’