Ayodhya Priest, 15 Cops Deployed At Ram Mandir Site Test Positive For COVID-19 Days Before Bhoomi Pujan Ram Mandir model (Representative Image)

Days ahead of the bhoomi pujan ceremony for the construction of Ram Mandir, an Ayodhya priest and at least 15 police personnel deployed at the temple site have reportedly tested positive for novel coronavirus.

The priest Pradeep Das, as per a Hindustan Times report, was likely to be part of the ceremony on 5 August which will be attended by various dignitaries including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Uttar Pradesh (UP) Chief Minister (CM) Yogi Adityanath among others.

Given the threat of spread of the COVID-19 disease, the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra Trust has already appealed to Ram bhakts (devotees of Lord Ram) and saints, who wished to travel to Ayodhya for the ceremony, to not do so. The trust has assured the bhakts that a 'Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir Nirman Yajna' will be organised at the right time in future for them to attend.

At least 11 priests form Varanasi and Ayodhya will be performing the puja at the ceremony. However, Das was not among those 11 priests, the report said.

Keeping the norms of social distancing amid COVID-19 pandemic the trust has done away with the idea of a mass event. The Ram Janmabhoomi premises is also being sanitised regularly, the Trust said.

“There is nothing to worry about. One of the priests who performs daily rituals at the temple site has tested positive. The entire campus will be sanitised on a routine basis,” said Mahant Kamal Nayan Das, successor designate to Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, chairman of the Trust.

The bhoomi pujan will only be attended by around 200 people including political and religious personalities such as senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders L K Advani, M M Joshi, Uma Bharti, and Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat among others.

Security arrangements have also been beefed up in Ayodhya after central intelligence agencies alerted the state police about possible attempts by terror groups to disrupt and sabotage the bhoomi pujan ceremony.

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