Amid the full-swing and around the clock preparations for the groundbreaking ceremony of Ram Temple in Ayodhya on August 5, the district has come through the shocking development after a priest and 16 policemen at the Ram Janmabhoomi complex had confirmed to have contracted to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Friday.
The priest who was tested positive is Pradeep Das, who is the assistant to the chief priest and all 16 policemen were stationed for security purposes at the complex and of them, four cops were on the permanent duty inside the complex while others worked on a shift basis. After the development, all other priests, including Chief priest Satyendra Das, have gone through testing and all of them tested negative to the viral infection.
Another 12 people who came in close contact with the priest had also tested negative. However, the development has stirred the speculations on conducting the ceremony on August 5 amid the spread of the viral infection. Responding to the speculations, Uttar Pradesh cabinet minister Sidharth Nath Singh has said that there is no question of deferring the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of Ram temple on August 5.
He stated that the ceremony of this nature can't be deferred just because 16 policemen and a priest tested positive for the virus. Other policemen would be deployed for the security and the priest is neither a main priest nor the only one in the temple. The complex has been sanitized and disinfected and all the mandated norms and health protocols will be followed during the ceremony on August 5.
According to the reports, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be laying the foundation stone in Ayodhya around 12.30 pm on August 5 and the ceremony will be attended by 50 important dignitaries including Union Ministers Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Chief Ministers Yogi Adityanath and Nitish Kumar, BJP leaders LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, and RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat. The reports stated that the priest who tested positive came in close contact with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath when the latter visited the complex last Saturday to review the preparations for the ceremony on August 5.
The Ceremony will also see the gathering of 200 people including priests and guests. The Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra has placed orders for around four lakh packets of Bikaneri laddoos which will be delivered to the foreign embassies in Delhi on August 5 and the temple trust said that giant TV screens will be hoarded across Ayodhya so that the devotees can see the ceremony and the district administration has been decorating Ayodhya with the murals depicting Lord Ram and Ramayana.
On the other hand, the opposition parties have criticized the ceremony and the presence of the Prime Minister. CPI's leader said that 'the Prime Minister's presence at the ceremony is definitely the violation of secular principles'. According to the reports, a priest and the policemen had tested positive for the virus days after the BJP said that the inauguration of the construction of Ram temple would destruct the COVID-19 viral infection.