At 8 in the morning, clad in a black hoodie, a craftsman works on a 15-feet stone slab with a hammer and chisel at the Mandir Nirman Karyashala of Shri Ram Janm Bhoomi Nyas in Ayodhya. Massive stone slabs and bricks bearing the words ‘Jai Shri Ram’ occupy much of his workplace.
Rajnikant Bharatrai Sompura, 53, is working on a piece of stone that will someday, many hope, be used to build the Ram Mandir at Lord Ram’s purported birthplace. Seeking to resolve the decades-long dispute, the Supreme Court on March 8 formed a mediation panel in the Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid dispute case and tasked it to come up with a resolution.
“There was hope that the temple would be built but then we locked horns with Pakistan. The temple will remain on the backburner,” says Sompura. “The whole world wants the temple. I am a small labourer. Who cares about my views?”
The Karyashala is peopled with visitors across India. One man touches the stone, then raises the hand to his head in reverence. “Bahut dharm ka kaam kar rahe ho aap....