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Indian PM Vows to Maintain Order in Ayodhya


Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has vowed to uphold a supreme court verdict banning Hindu fundamentalists from holding a religious ceremony on a holy site claimed by both Hindus and Muslims. The prime minister has appealed for peace and communal harmony in the country, amid fears sectarian violence could erupt over the issue.

Prime Minister Vajpayee told parliament all "adequate preparations" have been made to maintain law and order in Ayodhya, the tiny town where Hindu hardliners are threatening to go ahead with a religious ceremony, Friday, despite a court ban. "I wish to categorically and unambiguously say the government will implement the court's order in letter and in spirit," Mr. Vajpayee said.

The religious ceremony was to mark the beginning of construction of a Hindu temple on a site where a Muslim mosque once stood. The mosque was torn down by Hindu activists, 10 years ago.

The government had asked the supreme court to allow a Hindu ceremony on land adjacent to the disputed site. This caused an uproar from opposition lawmakers, who are accusing the government of advocating Hindu nationalism.

In Ayodhya, security is tight and the army has is showing its force.

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