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Modi opens Hindu temple built on ruins on razed mosque, in political triumph for prime minister

A general view of the audience during the opening of a temple dedicated to Hindu deity Lord Ram, in Ayodhya, India, Jan. 22, 2024. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to open a controversial Hindu temple built on the ruins of an ancient mosque in the holy city of Ayodhya in a grand event that is expected to galvanize Hindu voters months before a general election. AP PHOTO / RAJESH KUMAR SINGH

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RAJESH KUMAR SINGH, RISHI LEKHI, BISWAJEET BANERJEE, SHEIKH SAALIQ, SHONAL GANGULY AND KRUTIKA PATHI

AP’s team in India provided visually compelling, richly reported, all-format coverage of one of the country’s most defining and contentious events, the opening of a controversial Hindu temple built on a razed mosque.

When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened a controversial Hindu temple, it marked a political triumph for the populist leader under whose watch the line between religion and state has largely eroded in the constitutionally secular country. The temple, dedicated to Hinduism’s most revered deity Lord Ram, sits on a site where Hindu mobs tore down a mosque three decades ago, its fraught history still an open wound for many Muslims.

The challenge before the India team was to capture the enormous political and religious significance, and social sensitivity, of the event ahead of the upcoming national elections. AP’s cross-format team in Delhi and on ground in Ayodhya provided visually rich and nuanced coverage that was both thoughtful and insightful. Smart planning and seamless execution helped the AP deliver a comprehensive package of spot stories, analysis and an explainer that captured not only the pomp-filled ceremony that signified a key moment in India’s history, but also the critical context.

Photographer Rajesh Kumar Singh was the only international photographer who managed to secure access to the high-security temple complex to exclusively cover the select gathering of invitees and arrival of Modi. AP was first among the global agencies to file self-shot images of the event while other agencies had to rely on handout images.

Singh, senior video journalist Rishi Lekhi, and stringer Biswajeet Banerjee kept the inputs steadily flowing in from Ayodhya, including live coverage from outside the venue, while Shonal Ganguly, Saaliq Sheikh and Krutika Pathi in Delhi helped with a quick turnaround of both text and video edits, enriching them with useful background and voices of ordinary Indians. Edits fast filed off the livestream in London kept AP output competitive for our broadcast clients.

The digital team helped elevate the presentation of the stunning visual imagery of the event, with an array of social and online products to amplify the storytelling for AP’s digital customers.

The package of stories scored high in terms of customer use across platforms. The comprehensive spot story and the explainer figured in the top 10 most used stories on APNews on Monday, with a high popularity ranking.

For playing a key role in bringing images of this momentous event to global audiences — and putting it in context — Rajesh Kumar Singh, Rishi Lekhi, Biswajeet Banerjee, Sheikh Saaliq, Shonal Ganguly and Krutika Pathi are Best of the Week — First Winner.

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