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Ayodhya: Calm under clampdown

AYODHYA: It was a holy city with few devotees Saturday when the Supreme Court delivered a unanimous verdict in the Ayodhya title suit. The Uttar Pradesh administration seemed to be in total control. After the judgment, there were no reports of any untoward incident nor were there any signs of public celebrations, though firecrackers were burst at some places.

Amid the clampdown, Ayodhya residents had a hard time moving from one place to another through the narrow lanes and bylanes since all entry and exit points were barricaded. Most residents were at home when the top court ruled that Hindus would get the disputed 2.77 acres to build a Ram temple, while Muslims would be given 5 acres at any prominent place in the city to construct a mosque. There was heavy security in localities with large Muslim population. “Everything is normal in my city. I am happy,” Rashid Khan from Kajiana locality said.

The administration had virtually barred the entry of outsiders into the city. Till late Friday night, buses of the UP State Transport Corporation were taking devotees back to their destinations in neighbouring districts.

Top UP officials were posted at various important points in the city just ahead of the judgment. Ashutosh Pandey, UP’s additional director general of police (prosecution), deputed in Ayodhya as nodal officer, was seen supervising security arrangements at different points.

“We have also put on alert our drones,” he said.

The work towards building a Ram temple has been going on for years at two places in the city: the Ram Janmabhoomi Karyashala, where stones are being carved, and Karsewakpuram, where a model of the temple is kept.

These two places, which came up in the 1990s, have dominated politics in UP because of their association with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).

While Lallu Singh, the Lok Sabha MP from Faizabad, reached Ayodhya after the SC judgement, VHP’s local face Sharad Sharma was in demand among TV reporters. “We welcome the judgment. VHP always consults religious heads. So Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas [the trust which was set up to build the temple] will soon hold a meeting,” Sharma said. He said 65% of the work on the construction of the temple has been done.

Sharma, however, was unable to offer an answer to a question on the future role of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas in view of the top court ordering the setting up a trust for the construction of the temple.

At Nirmohi Akhara, whose suit was dismissed by the top court, mahant Dinendra Das had been busy since morning giving soundbites to TV reporters. “I welcome the judgement,” he said, adding that the Nirmohi Akhara has centres in several places in UP, MP, Rajasthan and Gujarat.

“So, we will hold a meeting soon to discuss our future course of action.”

Security was also high outside the house of Iqbal Ansari, the son of late Hashim Ansari, who was a litigant in the Ayodhya title suit. On Saturday, Iqbal was seen watching news on TV with some neighbours.

Source: Economic Times