Stone carving work halted at VHP workshop in Ayodhya

Sadhus look at stone slabs, carved-out for the construction of Ram Temple. PTI
Highlights: 
Although the VHP office-bearers remained evasive on the reasons behind halting of stone carving work, sources said that it had been done following directives from the top saffron party leadership
The locals, however, said that an artisan and a few labourers had been working at the workshop even after the death of the main artisan
Sources said that the decision to stop the stone carving work was taken after reports that the number of visitors at the workshop had increased sharply ahead of the Ayodhya verdict

The work of carving of stones at the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) workshop in Ayodhya has come to a complete halt ahead of the much-awaited Supreme Court verdict in the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid Title Suits.

Although the VHP office-bearers remained evasive on the reasons behind halting of stone carving work, sources said that it had been done following directives from the top saffron party leadership.

"The stone carving work had come to a halt following death of the main artisan around two months back....the work will start after the SC verdict,'' said a VHP office-bearer in Ayodhya.

The locals, however, said that an artisan and a few labourers had been working at the workshop even after the death of the main artisan. ''The work stopped last week,'' said a local resident.

Incidentally, it was for the first time in almost three decades that the stone carving work had come to a halt.

Sources said that the decision to stop the stone carving work was taken after reports that the number of visitors at the workshop had increased sharply ahead of the Ayodhya verdict. ''The number of visitors at the workshop had gone up substantially after expectations of an early judgement in the case,'' said a district official in Ayodhya.

The official said that the administration did not want to take any chance in view of the anticipated SC verdict. ''The footfall has been declining after stoppage of work,'' he added.

Interestingly the VHP had said a few months back that it had expedited the stone carving work anticipating an early verdict in the matter. Several truckloads of stones had arrived at the workshop since the BJP formed its government in the state in March 2017. The VHP had also planned to increase the number of artisans at the workshop to complete the work as early as possible.

VHP spokesman Sharad Sharma said that 65 per cent work of stone carving had been completed. ''We have enough carved stones for the construction of the first floor of the proposed Ram Temple,'' he had said. VHP had kept a model of the proposed Ram Temple at its office in Ayodhya.

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