Monkey Bridge

NEW DELHI, Sept 12, 2007 (AFP) – Thousands of right-wing Hindus launched protests across India Wednesday against a plan to create a sea lane which they say would destroy the links between a revered string of islands. The half-billion-dollar project would allow ships to travel around the southern tip of India without having to skirt around Sri Lanka as well, saving more than 30 hours.

But the Vishva Hindu Parishad, or World Hindu Council, said the plan would destroy Adam’s Bridge, a string of small islands mentioned in the Hindu epic the “Ramayana.”

According to the story, the geographical feature was built by an army of monkeys led by the Hindu deity Ram to recapture his wife from a demon king in Sri Lanka.

“Today’s demonstration is in order to protect Lord Ram’s bridge,” Surendra Kumar Jain, a senior leader of the youth wing of the Vishva Hindu Parishad, told AFP.

Ram is the most revered human incarnation of a Hindu deity and the protagonist of the eponymous epic, which tells how legions of simians hurled rocks into the strait to create a bridge.

The government argues that Adam’s Bridge is a natural formation and the dispute is currently with India’s Supreme Court.

“Unfortunately, the