Indian media: Temple politics?

Activists of the Hindu right-winged Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or World Hindu Council (VHP) scuffle with Indian policemen before getting detained at Ayodhya, India, Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013.
Image caption Several VHP leaders have been detained in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh

Media in India see political motives behind a hardline Hindu group's fresh bid to construct a temple on a disputed religious site in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

The Vishwa Hindu Prishad (World Hindu Council - VHP) had planned to start a march to support their cause of building a temple in the town of Ayodhya.

But the state administration arrested several VHP leaders even before the march could begin, saying it threatened religious harmony.

The group, however, said it would continue to press ahead with plans to build a temple on the site of the razed Babri mosque, which was destroyed in 1992 by Hindu hardliners who claimed it was the birthplace of the Hindu god Ram.

The destruction of the mosque sparked some of the worst violence in recent Indian history - nearly 2,000 people died in subsequent religious riots across the country.

Newspapers and websites see the VHP's latest move as a bid to woo Hindu voters ahead of the general elections due next year.

"The VHP's move to organise the yatra [arch] in August instead of April was seen as an attempt to mobilise masses for the Ram temple movement, which could help the [main opposition] Bharatiya Janata Party start gathering popular support in the state right in time for the elections in 2014," says an article on the First Post website.

"There are questions in Sunday's aftermath, and in the countdown to 2014, about the political timing of a religious yatra, and also about what could be seen as the state government's disproportionate response to it," The Indian Express says in an editorial.

The Times of India reports that "locals saints said it was a political yatra which had no religious sanctity".

Meanwhile, the gang rape of a photojournalist in Mumbai last week has sparked anger in the media.

"The brutal gang-rape in Mumbai… brings back memories of another savage attack that took place in December in Delhi last year, where the victim eventually succumbed to her injuries," says the Deccan Herald.

'Poor maintenance' of Taj Mahal

Elsewhere, government auditors have pointed out a lack of maintenance of the world famous monument, the Taj Mahal, reports The Pioneer.

"An audit report of the Comptroller and Auditor General talks about cracks in the walls, seepage, poor maintenance and unauthorised construction around the premises," the paper adds.

Meanwhile, the government has asked the security forces in the Maoist-dominated areas to show movies on India's freedom struggle and national leaders to win over the hearts of tribal villagers, reports The Indian Express.

And in some sad news for classical music fans, noted singer and music director Pandit Raghunath Panigrahi died on Sunday at the age of 80 after suffering a cardiac arrest, The Hindu reports.

Meanwhile, floods in parts of India, including the eastern states of West Bengal and Jharkhand, continue to wreak havoc as many people have died and thousands are left homeless, reports say.

More than 24,000 homes have been destroyed in a West Bengal town after the neighbouring state Jharkhand released water from a barrage, The Times of India reports.

And in the capital, Delhi, a baffling situation recently arose at the city's international airport when an Afghan national set off alarms during frisking, but security officials could not find any traces of metal in his clothes or on his body, the Hindustan Times reports.

It later turned out that the man, who was visiting India for a medical treatment, had too much iron content in his body "which caused the metal detectors to send out an alert", the report added.

In some good news for Indian archery fans, the women's team defeated South Korea on Sunday to win the World Cup in Poland, the DNA website reports.

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