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Riots flared again in Gujarat in 2002 after Muslims burned alive 59 Hindus they believed were returning from desecrating the mosque at Ayodhya.

More than a thousand people were killed in riots throughout the state.

Today, the same claims have been taken up by some members of the ruling BJP, the Hindu nationalist party led by prime minister Narenda Modi.

Lakshmikant Bajpayee, the BJP president of Uttar Pradesh state, where the monument is located, said in December that the Taj Mahal was an ancient temple that was sold by Hindu king Jai Singh to Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor widely believed to have built it.

Speaking at the Agra district court in May, a collection of tourist bodies warned: “The Taj Mahal is a major tourist attraction and a symbol of national pride not only for Agra but also for the entire country.In the immediate aftermath, riots claimed more than 2,000 lives in cities throughout India.In Mumbai, Islamic terrorists killed more than 250 people in a series of bombings believed to have been in retaliation for Muslim deaths in the post-Ayodhya riots.Today, more than 200,000 troops have been deployed in Northern India to prevent similar violence after the expected High Court ruling on who owns the site at Ayodhya, the Muslim Central Sunni Waqf Board, or a Hindu organisation that wants to build a temple to Lord Rama on the plot of the former mosque.According to Hindu campaigners, Lord Rama, one of their most revered deities, was born on the site, and an 11th Century Ram temple stood there until it was destroyed by troops loyal to Babur, the Muslim conqueror and India's first Mughal emperor.

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