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Hindus in India set to build temple at razed mosque site

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As Hindus prepare to celebrate the groundbreaking of a long-awaited temple at a disputed ground in northern India, Muslims say they have no firm plans yet to build a new mosque at an alternative site they were granted to replace the one torn down by Hindu hard-liners decades ago.

Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony follows a ruling by India’s Supreme Court last November favoring the building of a Hindu temple on the disputed site in Uttar Pradesh state.

Hindus believe their god Ram was born at the site and claim that the Muslim Emperor Babur built a mosque on top of a temple there.

The 16th century Babri Masjid mosque was destroyed by Hindu hard-liners in December 1992, sparking massive Hindu-Muslim violence that left some 2,000 people dead. The Supreme Court’s verdict paved the way for the building of a temple in place of the demolished mosque.

The court also ordered that Muslims be given 5 acres (2 hectares) of land to build a new mosque at a nearby site. But the ruling disappointed Muslims, who comprise around 14% of Hindu-majority India’s 1.3 billion people.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay five silver bricks as the temple foundation amid the chanting of Hindu religious hymns. Houses and other buildings close to the temple site in the city of Ayodhya are being painted yellow to recreate the look when the Hindu god Ram ruled there for thousands of years, according to the Hindu epic Ramayana, according to AP reports.

More than 100,000 oil lamps will light up the city in celebration, said chief priest Satyendra Das.

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