Shankaracharya says Ram temple construction to begin Feb 21, ready to `face bullets’

ALLAHABAD: Religious leader Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati Wednesday said a ceremony to mark the start of construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya will take place on February 21, 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 here.

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.

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The ‘dharamadesh’ (edict issued by the Dwarka Peeth Shankaracharya 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 Allahabad after Basant Panchami, which falls on February 10. He said they were ready to face bullets. The Shankaracharya criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government for not bringing legislation to enable the construction of the temple, even though it had an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha.

It said the government demonstrated this majority when a bill to provide reservation in government jobs and educational institutes for the economically weaker sections was passed in Parliament.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has also planned a two-day Dharam Sansad in Allahabad, beginning Thursday.