Twenty eight days after a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court delivered a unanimous verdict to set up a trust for the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, where the 16th century Babri mosque once stood, Hindu groups have decided to downplay the anniversary of the mosque demolition on Friday (December 6).
However, police are taking no chances. An official said security arrangement in the temple town are similar to those ahead of the Supreme Court judgment day — watertight.
Prior to the November 9 judgment, right-wing Hindu organisations used to celebrate the day as Shaurya Diwas. However, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) said the day will be marked as ‘yaum-e-gham’ (day of sorrow). But AIMPLB office-bearer Zafaryab Jilani added that it was up to individuals to decide on that.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), which spearheaded the Babri mosque demolition, has decided against any festivities. VHP spokesman Sharad Sharma said, they will not hold any public function. However, it added that people may light earthen lamps in temples. Hindu seers are also of the view that “truth has triumphed so there is no relevance of the celebrations,” the VHP said.
On November 30, Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas chief Mahant Nritya Gopal Das too had appealed against observing Shaurya Diwas, saying there was no relevance left for it after the apex court verdict.
Maulana Shafique Alam of Terhi Bazaar Masjid, which is in close proximity to the Ramjanmabhoomi, on Thursday said Friday prayers would be held in the mosque at 1 pm.
“Around 150-200 Muslims are likely to attend it,” he said.
Recalling developments on November 8, a day before the apex court gave its verdict, Shafique Alam said, “There are around 40-50 Muslim families in this area, of which 30 had sent their womenfolk to other places. Some financially well-off people too shifted ahead of the Supreme Court judgment. Most of them returned after November 14. There were no clashes, but people were feeling sad over the judgment. I too had gone to my native place in Bihar’s Gaya and returned on November 19,” he said, adding that police were very helpful.
He, however, blamed outsiders for vitiating the atmosphere of Ayodhya, saying his Hindu neighbours were very nice. “Even during a marriage or any other celebrations in their households, they switch off the music system during namaaz,” he said.
“The security plan for December 6 will be a continuation of the plan we had devised for November 9,” Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) PV Ramasastry said, adding that the precautions taken by them were the same they had adopted on the judgment day.
Ayodhya SSP Ashish Tiwari said the entire district had been divided into four zones, 10 sectors and 14 sub-sectors. “As many as 78 sandbag posts have been established with armed policemen posted there. Barriers have been put in place to control traffic. As many as 269 police pickets have been set up in sensitive areas,” Tiwari said. The SSP added that 305 troublemakers had been identified and action was being initiated against them.
Besides this, nine quick response teams have been deployed. “To combat any emergency situation, five arresting parties have been formed in addition to 10 temporary jails,” he said, adding that anti-sabotage teams were checking hotels, dharamshalas and other public places.
He said people have been appealed to immediately inform police about any suspicious activity or people.
The public has also been asked not to fall prey to any rumour mongering and maintain harmony, he said.
“Stress has been laid on confidence-building measures,” the SSP said, adding that they had contacted seers, traders and academics in this regards.
District Magistrate Anuj Kumar Jha, when contacted to comment on the situation in the district ahead of December 6, said “It is perfectly alright. We are talking to all parties regarding maintaining peace and harmony (in the district). All of them too agree on this.”
Later in the day, the DM and the SSP, along with other officials of the district, undertook a flag march from Chowk to Fatehganj Chauraha and Kasab Bada.
Both officials have appealed to the public not to indulge in any activity bringing disrepute to Ayodhya. All of us must try to send a message of brotherhood, they said.
(With inputs from agencies)