Hours after PM Narendra Modi announced the formation of a 15-member trust to oversee the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, the UP cabinet cleared a proposal to give the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board a five-acre plot located 25 km from the Ram Janmabhoomi site to build a mosque.
“As advised by the Supreme Court in its verdict on November 9, 2019, five acres of land have been allotted for the mosque at a place 18 km from Faizabad district HQ,” government spokesperson Shrikant Sharma said. “Located at Dhannipur village in Ayodhya’s Sohawal tehsil, the plot is barely 200 m from the Lucknow-Gorakhpur highway, which will ensure easy access to a mosque. The proposal has received the cabinet’s nod,” he added.
Faizabad district was officially renamed Ayodhya on November 13, 2018, although many people continue to refer to it by its old name. The adjoining city of Faizabad officially retains its original name.
UP government spokesperson Shrikant Sharma said three options had been presented to the state cabinet by district authorities. “The government forwarded a shortlist of plots near highways passing through Ayodhya to the Centre, which picked the one at Dhannipur village on Lucknow-Gorakhpur highway.”
According to the official, the proximity of the plot to a highway and a police station (Raunahi) swung the decision in its favour. “Proximity to the highway means pilgrims can reach the mosque easily. A police station in the vicinity makes it an even better choice since maintaining communal harmony and law and order is also a priority,” he said.
In its November 9 verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit, the Supreme Court had given the government three months to pick an alternative 5-acre site within Ayodhya for the construction of a mosque.
Sources in the government said the Hindu litigants demanded that land for the mosque be allotted outside the “panchkosi parikarma”, the traditional 15 km route that devotees take to pay obeisance to Lord Ram in Ayodhya. “Dhannipur made the cut in this respect, too. It is 18 km from the Faizabad district headquarters and 25 km away from the temple site,” an official said.