Ayodhya: The ‘Bhumi Pujan’ ceremony for the Ram Temple which is supposed to take place here August 5 has run into difficulties. A priest and 14 policemen on duty at the Ram Janambhoomi complex here has tested positive for COVID-19. All the priests and other staff who are expected to be part of the ‘Bhumi Pujan’ ceremony are undergoing COVID-19 tests at regular intervals. The revelation about the priest and the policemen came to light Thursday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to attend the ‘Bhumi Pujan’ ceremony along with 50 VIPs.
Pradeep Das, the assistant to the chief priest said he has tested positive for coronavirus. The other four priests at the makeshift temple premises, including chief priest Satyendra Das however, have tested negative for COVID-19. Another 12 people who are in close contact with the priests have also tested negative. Das has been asked to undergo isolation.
The policemen who tested positive have been posted at the Ram Janmabhoomi complex were responsible for the security of the area. Four of them were on permanent duty. The remaining 10 carried out their functions on a shift basis.
UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had visited the temple complex July 25 to review the preparations for the ground breaking ceremony. Yogi Adityanath had come in contact with a number of priests including Pradeep Das. Photos and images show Adityanath standing in close proximity to Das and a few other priests. Satyendra Das, who will lead the August ceremony, was also seen standing next to the men.
However, the Ram Janmabhoomi Trust said that the programme will go on as per the schedule. All protocols put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will be strictly followed during the function. It should be stated here that currently Uttar Pradesh has 29,997 active cases out of which 375 are from this holy city. The Trust informed that approximately 200 people will attend the ‘Bhumi Pujan’ ceremonmy.
Huge preparations have been made for the ceremony, including a helipad for the Prime Minister three kilometres 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.
The Trust informed that a number of senior BJP leaders have been invited to attend the programme. The invitations have been sent keeping in mind their contribution to the temple movement. Among them are leaders like Lal Krishna Advani, Murali Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar and Sadhvi Ritambhara.