Prem Kumar Tiwari, an assistant priest at the Ram Janmabhoomi premises, tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. The news came just days after another assistant priest, Pradeep Das, tested positive for the coronavirus.
The chief priest of the premises, Satyendra Das, had been kept in self-isolation after Pradeep Das tested positive.
The test result of Prem Kumar Tiwari means none of the priests who normally preside over the worship of the Ram Lalla idol will be present for the Bhoomi Pujan of the Ram Mandir on Wednesday.
Satyendra Das told sources that the news of Tiwari testing positive was worrying. “Prem Kumar Tiwari is part of the team that conducts the daily rituals here at the site. We all stay in the same area in the mandir. I also have some other conditions and I’m not a young man,” he said.
However, district officials played down the implications of Tiwari testing positive, noting the government was taking all precautions.
Last week, when Pradeep Das had tested positive, 16 security personnel at the site had also tested positive. The news of the COVID-19 cases at the Ram Mandir site and the fact that Home Minister Amit Shah and other prominent personalities have been infected has led to demands to postpone the Bhoomi Pujan, which is expected to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Sources reports indicate that from 2pm on Tuesday, the entire area near the Ram Mandir site will be shut for the public in order to prevent unnecessary crowds.