AYODHYA: Now that the Supreme Court has said that it will examine the issue of reviving the conspiracy charges against L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharati and Kalyan Singh for the demolition of the Babri masjid, a fresh debate on the disputed site has started all over again in Ayodhya.
Simultaneously, security agencies have upped their surveillance after the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Any development or news about Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute brings back old memories for the people of Ayodhya. Rambabu Gupta, who runs a sweet shop right outside the famous Hanuman Garhi temple, remembers the day of the demolition on Dec. 6, 1992. He was 22 at the time. “I have seen the worst riots here and it is scary to even think about it. Each time there is some development in court, people here become jittery,’’ he says.
“Except dialogue and negotiation, there is no other solution. I don’t think even the courts can do anything,’’ he declares.
No sooner was the Supreme Court ruling started flashed on TV screens on Monday than many old timers – most of them die-hard BJP supporters -- were seen engaged in animated discussions in this town.
Mohammed Abdul Jabbar, a 48-year-old father of three lives a few kilometers from the disputed site. A daily wager, he says that all those responsible for violence that day in December 1992 should be punished so that no one would dare repeat such an act. “It is not a matter of Hindu or Muslim. How can anyone demolish a religious structure that one community considers sacred? Most of us in our community would have said the same thing had the religious place of any other community been brought down,’’ he said.
Coming two days before the seventh and last phase of polling in the UP elections, the Supreme Court observations came as a surprise to people here. “Politicians have kept the issue alive, and the matter is going on endlessly in the courts. There has to be closure. Because we live here, we know that any small development on Ayodhya affects our day-to-day life. There are 6,500 temples, big and small across the twin districts of Faizabad and Ayodhya and 50 masjids. There are several more but these are the registered ones. Over the last few years, several new temples and mosques have come up and we don’t have a figure for it,’’ says a government official, requesting anonymity.
“We need jobs, we want civic issues addressed. Mandir or masjid, it is not going to feed us. I don’t understand why people are still after this,’’ says Abhay, who was born in 1994, two years after the demolition. In fact, youngsters born after 1992 talk only of education and jobs. “Due to lack of jobs, many of us are either having to move to Lucknow or Delhi. I have so many Muslim friends here and none of us have ever discussed the Ram Mandir or the Babri Masjid. This is an issue only for old timers,’’ said Parkishit Mishra, a college student.
At the makeshift temple complex, Ram bhakts throng the temple day in and day out from different parts of the country. They approach along a narrow pathway with strong iron grilling on either side, punctuated with multiple security checks for a darshan of Ram lalla from 30 ft.
“We were informed about the Supreme Court development and though it is not a matter directly concerning the security of the complex, it can still have some repercussions. The more Ayodhya and Ramjanmabhoomi is in the news, the more the chances of trouble,’’ says an elderly police constable posted at the first checkpoint at the complex.
He says that ever since a group of terrorists attacked the makeshift temple on July 5, 2005 by five terrorists security has been increased manifold. “All five were shot dead in the ensuing gunfight with the Central Reserve Police Force personnel. One civilian was killed by a grenade thrown by a terrorist to breach the cordoned wall,’’ the policeman recalled.
A senior police official in Lucknow told New Indian Express that already the police are on high alert and following the Supreme Court development and intel gathering has been stepped up. ''The atmosphere is already charged due to the polls. We are keeping a watch on trouble mongers who can create unnecessary trouble,'' he said.