At ground zero, a spectrum of emotions

Religious fervour:Devotees gather to attend the foundation laying ceremony for the Ram Temple in Ayodhya on Wednesday.PTI

Religious fervour:Devotees gather to attend the foundation laying ceremony for the Ram Temple in Ayodhya on Wednesday.PTI  

Iqbal Ansari, a litigant in the Ayodhya land dispute case, on Wednesday hoped the Ram temple construction would mark the end of any dispute. “I believe in the Constitution and the law. Muslims all over accepted the verdict. There is no more dispute,” he said.

While he says he felt honoured being invited to attend the bhoomi pujan , Mr. Ansari is reluctant to offer a glorified picture of Ayodhya once the temple is built. When asked if the temple would accelerate development, he said: “Ayodhya has 10,000 temples, Sarayu river and Hanumanji’s mandir. Now another big temple will come up. It’s a good thing. What objection will Muslims have.”

No celebrations here

In contrast to the main road which was decorated with yellow paint on building facades, triangular saffron flags and floral designs, amid a commentary on the bhoomi pujan event played out through loudspeakers, Mr. Ansari’s locality in Ayodhya was quiet. Mumtaz Ali, who runs a furniture shop, was among those ambling out of a bylane. He had little to comment on the event. But when pushed, he said, “The final outcome is not just.” While he has reconciled with the decision, he says the issue triggers anything but calm. “Both mosque and temple should have been built, given the circumstances,” he said.

However, Hindus in the town rejoiced over the event. Some distributed sweets to bystanders, while others shouted slogans. Many watched the event, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi’spujasand speech, on their televisions, cramped up inside homes or small shops. Many youngsters like Ram Avtar and Shiv Karan, both carpenters in their twenties, followed it on their smartphones. “The temple should be built swiftly. It is our prabhu Ram’s birthplace. So it is apt a temple is being built there,” said Mr. Avtar.

The two men were not born when the Babri Masjid was demolished. They say they know nothing about it and see the temple construction as “restoration” of an earlier temple.

Long wait for temple

Ram Shankar Gupta, who sells puja items near the Hanumangarhi temple, said he had lost hope that a temple would be built in his lifetime. Mr. Gupta was born in 1951, two years after the idol of an infant Lord Ram was placed inside the mosque, changing the course of the dispute. “If the Lord keeps me alive, I will see it [Ram Temple] with these eyes,” said Mr. Gupta in tears.

Ajay Kumar Tiwari, who is posted in the armed forces, arrived in Ayodhya on Tuesday during his leave for darshan of the temple. Before leaving for his home district Gonda, Mr. Tiwari was buying a saffron flag to fix onto his motorcycle. “It is a festival,” he says.

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