NEW DELHI: The Centre has set the ball rolling for implementing the November 9 SC order in the Ayodhya dispute by setting up a team of senior bureaucrats, led by an additional secretary, to look after all matters related to the case. In its December 31 order, the Home Ministry said Ayodhya matters will be handled by a team headed by Additional Secretary Gaynesh Kumar. The SC verdict gave the entire disputed site to the Ram Lalla idol, clearing the way for construction of a new temple there. Till now, Ayodhya-related matters were handled by the ministry’s Internal Security-I division, which also dealt with National Integration Council, Sikh militancy etc.
All matters related to Ayodhya will be handled now by special desk in MHA
Through the order, MHA has merged its IS-I division with IS-II division — which dealt with mutual legal assistance pacts, extradition requests and National Security Act matters. The order issued on December 31, 2019, stated that the merged division will be called “Internal Security division”.
“Ayodhya matters and related court judgments will henceforth be put up by the deputy secretary in charge of national integration, a subject matter of internal security-I division, to additional secretary Gyanesh Kumar (Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh) through joint secretary (JKL),” the order stated. Home ministry officials described it as a mere reorganisation exercise.
There was a dedicated Ayodhya cell in the MHA during 1990-1992 when V P Singh and Chandra Shekhar were prime ministers. At that time, the cell was headed by a joint secretary-level officer and had comprised an officer on special duty. Former bureaucrat and now a historian and author Kunal Kishore, who was OSD (Ayodhya) said, “Our mandate was to make efforts for resolving the dispute and negotiate with the parties.” P V Narasimha Rao brought the cell under the PMO but it closed down in the late 1990s.
There have been reports that the Uttar Pradesh government has sent a proposal to the home ministry suggesting three plots measuring five acres each in Ayodhya, one of which can be given to UP Sunni Waqf Board for construction of a mosque, as mandated by the Supreme Court.
“All such matters will be now handled by the new desk in the home ministry,” a ministry official said.