'Ayodhya needs facilities to host Ram Mandir tourists'
Locals from both communities welcome the temple's construction, say they now will be able to live in peace, do their jobs and support their families
With the Ram Mandir finally becoming a reality, residents of the twin towns of Ayodhya and Faizabad want the region to be peaceful again and get the much-needed boost in terms of infrastructure and employment in the years to come. The towns have rarely fought on communal grounds, but what has affected them the most is a long-standing feud between the outsiders, who had larger interests than the locals.
mid-day spoke to some residents from both the communities and observers ahead of the mandir's bhoomi pujan today. All of them welcomed the initiative but some questioned the timing of the ceremony and the purpose behind it.
Boost infra, tourism
Dr Pradeep Khare, former principal of Saket PG College, believes that outsiders were responsible for disturbing the region's peace in the past three decades. He also wants the locals to get the real benefits of the initiative. "Once the pandemic ends, Ayodhya will have a steady flow of devotees. The number of tourists will increase further after construction of the temple is over. But what facilities do we have to host these people? We don't have roads, parking lots, hotels, local transport and recreation facilities," added Dr Khare.
Dr Pradeep Khare, former principal of Saket PG College and Kulsum Mustafa, senior journalist and social activist from Lucknow
He said most of the devotees don't stay in Ayodhya but travel from Lucknow, which had better facilities. "The government should immediately start creating infrastructure here and encourage construction of more hotels and decent boarding facilities because people will visit with their families. The waterfront needs to be developed to attract tourists, who will also help boost the local business," added Dr Khare.
A local transporter Jitender Singh said, "It makes me feel that all the ladai-jhagda (fight) will be over now. We will live in peace, do our jobs and support our families." Local businessman Santosh Singh said, "The entire town is happy. There is a kind of junoon (frenzy), but no tension at all because Hindus and Muslims both want the temple."
Better move on
Mohd. Adnan, 32, a software engineer, who works in Bangalore, now stranded at his home in Faizabad, said, "We have our own struggles. I have friends from all religions and we don't discuss this at all. We can't reverse what has happened, but we can surely look at bettering the future. Let's move on because this is not going to benefit us individually or our nation's diversity, which we need to protect." Adnan added that the judiciary's decision might be harsh for some and good for others, but it was for everyone to respect it. "Compromise doesn't mean bending down but it is seen as an amicable approach that benefits all," said an engineer.
Questioning the timing of the ceremony, a senior journalist and social activist from Lucknow, Kulsum Mustafa recalled the frenzy she experienced while reporting the demolition of the Babri Masjid. "In the present context, the timing of the bhoomi pujan may not be right because it violates the safety of people. The PM, who has appealed to people to stay home and not celebrate religious festivals in the pandemic, will be in attendance. The temple must be constructed but going ahead with the plan in such a situation isn't good. It could be postponed, but I see the Uttar Pradesh elections are coming up in a couple of years."
Recalling how she felt targeted for being a Muslim while reporting the Babri Masjid demolition incident, she said, "We have come a long way since 1992 and we have learned to live with it. But aren't we grown up people. Our country has a multi-religion fabric. The Muslims are here by choice and not by default, but the way they are made to feel isn't good."
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