By Shivangi Chawla
A junior priest at the Ram temple in Ayodhya has been found positive for coronavirus. Pradeep Das, who is a pupil of the head priest Acharya Satyendra Das at Ram temple, has been put on home isolation following the test.
The incident comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s expected visit to lay the foundation stone of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya on August 5. The construction of the temple will start with the ceremony to lay the foundation stone.
A Ram Mandir Trust member had said that in view of the coronavirus pandemic, only 200 people would attend the ceremony and all social distancing norms will be followed at the event.
As per reports, separate blocks will be created for 50 people each in order to maintain social distancing. While one block will be for political leaders and those associated with the Ram temple movement, another block will be for priests and religious leaders.
Apart from Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath veteran leaders expected to attend the ceremony include LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, and Kalyan Singh.
A total of four priesTs are given charge of taking care of the Ram temple. Das, who tested positive, is one of them. At least 16 police personnel on duty at the temple have also tested positive for Covid-19, following which all of them have been asked to isolate at home. A priest and 14 policemen on duty at Ayodhya’s Ram Janambhoomi complex, 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.
Another 12 people who are in close proximity to the priests have also tested negative.
The policemen who tested positive were engaged in security duties at the Ram Janmabhoomi complex, the temple trust said. While four of them were on permanent duty inside the complex, the rest took turns sometimes.
Last Saturday, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had visited the Ram Janmabhoomi complex to review preparations for the August 5 event. Photos and videos from the day show the coronavirus-positive priest Pradeep Das standing next to the chief minister during a ritual. The Ram Janmabhoomi chief priest Satyendra Das, who will lead the August 5 ceremony, was also seen standing next to the men.
The program will go ahead as planned, maintaining all the safety rules for coronavirus, the Trust said. Currently, Ayodhya has 375 active cases of coronavirus, Uttar Pradesh has 29,997 cases.