Ayodhya: Waiting for the verdict

Shobhan Saxena in The Times of India:

Ayodhya has its Ground Zero — a 90 feet by 110 feet platform on which the Babri Masjid stood till it was razed by a fanatical mob in 1992. Today, a small makeshift temple with idols of Ram, Laxman and Sita stands at the site. Around it, 47 acres of land are barricaded with steel fences and barbed wire and protected by armed jawans who maintain a vigil round the clock.

On Friday (September 24), the Allahabad High Court’s Lucknow bench will deliver its verdict on a 60-year-old case that will either order the resurrection of the 428-year-old mosque or pave the way for a temple to be built at the disputed site. A wary government has been moving security forces to Ayodhya in order to prevent trouble on the day of judgment. At every street corner there is a man with an automatic rifle.

The locals are increasingly irritated. They want to reclaim their city — from the security forces, the courts, quarrelling religious groups. “Whatever the judgment of the court we will respect it. If the matter was left to people of Ayodhya it would have been resolved by now,” says Satyendra Das, head priest of Ramjanambhoomi Mandir.

Just a week before the verdict in the title suit, which actually lists the two plaintiffs as “Bhagwan Shri Ram Lala Virajman and Asthan Shri Ram Janmabhoomi”, the people of Ayodhya are indifferent to the issue and fiercely opposed to the politics of it. Even as the state government tries to prove that it can maintain law and order and discredited politicians try to stir up religious emotions, Ayodhya says it wants to move on from the past. “Those who ran a violent movement for temple forgot Ram, when they came to power. The supporters of the masjid too behaved like this when they were in power or close to it. Now they are all worried about it. That worries us,” says Khalid Rashid Faranagi Mahali, a prominent Sunni leader of UP.

“No one in Ayodhya wants violence in the name of masjid or mandir,” says Anil Kumar Singh, who teaches literature at the Saket Postgraduate College. More:

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