A priest and 16 policemen on duty at Ayodhya, where the groundbreaking ceremony for the Ram temple is expected to be held on August 5, have tested positive for coronavirus. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to attend the ceremony along with 50 VIPs.
Pradeep Das, the assistant to the chief priest said he has tested positive for coronavirus. The 16 policemen who tested positive were engaged in security duties at the Ram Janmabhoomi complex, the temple trust said.
The programme, however, will be held as planned, maintaining all the safety rules for coronavirus. Currently, Ayodhya has 375 active cases of coronavirus, Uttar Pradesh has 29,997 cases.
Around 200 people will be present for the ceremony at the complex. The number will include priests, securitymen, guests and locals, the Trust said.
Huge preparations have been made for the ceremony, including a helipad for the Prime Minister three km from the Ram Janambhoomi site. The road to the temple has been widened. Graffiti paintings depicting the life of the Lord Ram have been put up along the road.
Giant CCTV screens have been erected across Ayodhya so the devotees can watch the programme, the Temple Trust had said.
All senior BJP leaders associated with temple movement have been invited, the Trust said. The list includes BJP veterans Lal Krishna Advani and Murali Manohar Joshi and senior leaders like Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar and Sadhvi Ritambhara.
Seniors in the BJP’s ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, including its chief Mohan Bhagwat, are also expected to also attend the ceremony.
The Trust — set up on the directions of the Supreme Court to facilitate the construction of the temple – finalized a date of opening earlier this month. The opening, which was expected earlier this year, was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The makeshift temple built in Ayodhya opened on June 8 after the Centre allowed the opening of religious places as Unlock2 was rolled out across the country.