Hindu radicals are set to launch a month-long, national campaign demanding the construction of a temple at the site of a demolished Mughal mosque in the holy northern Indian city of Ayodhya. Hundreds of temple activists, religious leaders and ash-smeared sadhus rallied yesterday to pressure law-makers to enact legislation giving Hindus possession of the disputed 16th century mosque site, also claimed by the large Muslim minority. Described as 'a mild example of the fury raging within Hindus', the peaceful blockade of Parliament Street by saffron-clad Hindu holy men came at the conclusion of a 'religious parliament' convened in the capital by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP, or World Hindu Council), the organisation spearheading the temple movement. By early afternoon, 5,000 VHP members carrying Hindu tridents had gathered for the sit-in under a huge banner in Hindi, reading, 'Parliament, make a law for the construction of the temple'. Senior VHP leader Praveen Togadia warned of gathering 'storm clouds' and urged the government to bypass parliament if it refused to give permission to build the temple. The VHP will organise meetings throughout the country on Thursday to mark the first anniversary of the massacre of 59 Hindu pilgrims returning by train to Gujarat after a pilgrimage to Ayodhya. It also will launch a nationwide Hindu mobilisation campaign from March 5, the day before Supreme Court hearings on the issue, culminating in a 'Seige of Delhi' on March 24. The VHP is linked to the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with both organisations belonging to the family of Hindu groups spawned by the powerful Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Besides asking for government action in support of temple construction, the VHP's 'religious parliament' passed resolutions demanding a ban on traditional Islamic schools, an end to the illegal migration of Bangladeshi Muslims into India and a ban on the slaughter of cows, which Hindus consider sacred. It also demanded the BJP government ban religious conversions and expel all foreign missionaries who, radicals allege, influence poor and low-caste Hindus to convert to Christianity. The VHP campaign appears to have a friend in Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, who has reportedly expressed his opposition to conversions at closed-door party meetings. Mr Vajpayee also has publicly demanded a national debate on the issue. The BJP's manifesto for elections this week in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh calls explicitly for the banning of religious conversions. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief K. S. Sudarshan stirred up controversy last year when he demanded New Delhi expel foreign churches and set up a 'state church similar to the church in China'. He accused Christians of 'wreaking havoc with the unity and integrity' of India and of 'hatching a political conspiracy to destabilise the country'. He suggested Catholic churches should sever ties with the Vatican. But ever since the widespread religious violence in Gujarat a year ago, with an estimated 2,000 Muslims slaughtered by Hindu mobs, the focus of radical Hindu organisations has shifted to the Muslim minority. As a result, the demand for handing over the Ayodhya mosque site to Hindus has become even more strident. On March 6, the Supreme Court will begin hearings to consider if a part of the disputed land should be handed over to Hindus. The court also will rule if Hindus can conduct prayers at a makeshift temple constructed at the site after the mosque was razed by Hindu mobs in 1992. But there are unconfirmed reports that if the court rejects the Hindu demands, the BJP-government may go ahead with legislation allowing the Hindu takeover of a large part of the site. Mr Vajpayee has already been accused by opposition members of 'trying to influence the court' by declaring that a temple will be built at the mosque site. Hindu leaders have issued veiled threats of a religious bloodbath if their demands are not conceded soon. 'What happened in Gujarat will happen everywhere,' leader Acharya Dharmendra said.