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Ayodhya moves on 3 decades after Babri demolition

By Chandan Kumar and Qazi Faraz Ahmad
December 05, 2022 20:32 IST
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Three decades after the demolition of the Babri mosque, people in this pilgrim city seem to have moved on and appear to be treating its anniversary Tuesday almost like any other day.

Police are describing the security arrangements in Ayodhya for December 6 – the day 30 years back when "kar sevaks" razed the 16th century mosque -- as “routine”.

Some events are planned around the anniversary, but both Hindu and Muslim organisations are keen to play them down.

Unlike in the past, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad is not celebrating any "Shaurya Diwas" (Bravery Day) on Tuesday and there are no plans by the Muslim community to observe a “Black Day”.

With the Supreme Court judgement in 2019 ending the Ram Janmabhoomi land dispute, people from both the communities appear to be yearning for peace.

Nimit Pandey, a local businessman said, "The situation in Ayodhya is peaceful. December 6 is like any other day now for those who live in Ayodhya. A few years back there used to be a large police deployment but nothing like this happens here anymore."

In some past years, Ayodhya has turned in a fortress ahead of the Babri mosque demolition anniversary. Not this time, though.

"The situation is peaceful in Ayodhya and we have made routine arrangements for the day," Senior Superintendent of Police, Ayodhya, Muniraj G told PTI.

 

But he said police teams at eight major entry and exit points of Ayodhya and those in the vicinity of Ram Temple complex have been asked to remain vigilant.

There is police deployment at these sites on other days as well.

Ahead of December 6, the focus appears to be on developing the two religious sites set aside for the two communities under the apex court order.

Champat Rai, Secretary of Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra that has been tasked with the construction of a massive Ram temple, has already said devotees would be able to offer prayers at the new temple by January 2024.

Athar Hussain, secretary of Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation Trust, which is building a new mosque on five acres of land allotted under the SC order, has said the Ayodhya mosque should be ready by December 2023.

Krishna Kumar, who owns a shop on the main road near Maniram Das Chawni area, recalled how the city has changed over the three decades.

“I have owned this shop for the last 35 years and I can say that today the environment in Ayodhya is good. There is no tension between Hindu and Muslim communities, or any other such thing. All of us live peacefully.”

He was about 20 years old when the mosque was demolished by ‘kar sevaks', following the Hindu right narrative that the masjid was built on the ruins of an ancient Ram temple.

The trader said the town was seeped in devotion towards Ram even then. But there was no tension between the communities and the “kar sevaks” came from outside.

VHP spokesperson Sharad Sharma said events organised to mark December 6 were toned down after the Supreme Court decision “in favour of the Hindu side”.

“This year we celebrated Gita Jayanti on December 4, other programmes will continue for a week at different places," he said.

“As for the ‘Shaurya Diwas' which used to be celebrated on December 6, it has been called off completely as our main 'sankalp' (vow) was fulfilled. And after that, all we wanted was a peaceful environment.”

“So it was unanimously decided that no event that triggers any tension or hurts anyone should be organised,” he added.

He said the organisation didn't want to do anything that “damages trust and communal harmony".

However, many Muslims still feel that families of those killed in the aftermath of the Babri demolition are yet to get justice. Two recitations of the Quran are planned on Tuesday.

Mohammad Azam Qadri, Secretary of Anjuman Muhafiz Masajid Makabir Committee, Ayodhya, said, “The demolition of the Babri mosque is completing 30 years tomorrow and this is the time when we remember all those who were killed in the violence. We don't have any grudge against anyone as such, but then those who were killed have not got justice.”

"Muslims usually pray for those killed during in violence and Quran Khani is being organised at some places on December 6 for peace for the departed souls. Tomorrow, we are holding a Quran Khani programme at two mosques in Ayodhya,” he added.

Another local resident, Mohammad Shahid Ali, recalled how he and several other Muslims were saved by their Hindu neighbours when a mob turned violent.

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Chandan Kumar and Qazi Faraz Ahmad
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