Thousands gather in New Delhi to push for Hindu temple in Ayodhya

Tens of thousands of Hindus have marched in the Indian capital, Delhi, to call for a temple to be built on a hotly contested religious site.

Organisers say they will not relent until a grand temple is constructed in the northern city of Ayodhya.

The area has been a longstanding point of tension between Hindus and Muslims. Hindus believe the religious site is the birthplace of their revered deity Lord Ram, but Muslims say they have worshipped there for generations.

It was home to a medieval mosque for more than 450 years until Hindu mobs tore it down in 1992, provoking widespread riots that left thousands dead.

More than 50,000 people filled a large parade ground on Sunday to watch speakers from a hardline Hindu nationalist organisation call for a temple to be built.

Thousands more demonstrators, some carrying banners and others dressed as Hindu gods, lined nearby streets amid tight security.

India’s Muslim minority, which claims the right to worship at the site, say they offered prayers at the mosque until December 1949 when some Hindus placed idols of Ram inside and began to worship them.

Over the decades since, the two religious groups have gone to court many times over who should control the site.

The call for the construction of a Hindu temple there has grown particularly loud in the last few months and has mostly come from members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

It comes ahead of a general election which is due next May, and correspondents say the BJP appears to be attempting to galvanise Hindus ahead of this vote.

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