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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fingers crossed, parties wait for Ayodhya verdict

Fingers crossed, parties wait for Ayodhya verdict

With barely two weeks left for the verdict on the sensitive Ayodhya title suit, political parties are keeping their fingers crossed on how things will play out on an issue with a pan-Indian resonance even as authorities gear up to tackle any adverse fallout.

Adding to the tense buildup were the approach by some political leaders and religious organisations to the verdict highlighting that the Ayodhya issue was a matter relating to faith.

Authorities were also wary of vested interests and anti-social elements making attempts to foment trouble.

The verdict, which has the potential to create a tricky law and order situation irrespective of which way it goes, is due to be pronounced by the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court on September 24. It will decide the ownership of the disputed site of Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, about 140 km from capital Lucknow.

"We are alert and all the necessary measures have been taken to ensure that peace and communal harmony is not disturbed. It's a sensitive issue and any reaction to it would have repercussions in the entire country," Additional Director General, Law and Order, Brij Lal said.

VHP media incharge Sharad Sharma said "We will be performing yagna in 10 lakh temples for construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya and send a memorandum to President to enact a law to remove hurdles in construction of the temple".

Former BJP leader Kalyan Singh has also made a similar demand saying, "Even if the verdict goes against the Hindus,

there is no hurdle in the Parliament enacting a new law to pave way for the temple in keeping with the sentiments of crores of Hindus who have immense faith in the Lord".

The Plantiff in the case Mohammad Hashim Ansari said they would respect the decision of the court.

"Muslim Personal Law Board and Babri Masjid Action Committee(BMAC) has decided to appeal to Muslim community not to react if the decision is adverse. We will move Supreme Court, if needed", he said.

Convenor of the BMAC Khaliq Ahmad Khan said that if the decision was not in their favour, they would move the Supreme Court.

"While both the communities want the verdict in their favour it should be of prime importance that vested interests are not allowed an opportunity to disturb communal peace", Niab Imam of Eidgah Khalid Rashi Firnagimahli said.

Though major political parties are saying that they will be respecting court's decision, political observers feel that in Uttar Pradesh the parties may cash in on the post-verdict situation.

The High court will be addressing three issues. One, whether there was a temple at the disputed site, prior to 1538. Two, whether the suit filed by the Babri committee in 1961 is barred by limitation. And third, whether Muslims perfected their title through adverse possession.

The seeds of the dispute were sown on December 22, 1949, when the idol of Lord Ram was planted in the middle of the mosque, following which hundreds of Hindus barged into it and started offering prayers.

Though, barricading was put on the gates of the mosque building, the deity remained inside and none dared to get it removed despite stern directive from the then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru to chief minister Gobind Ballabh Pant.

Expressing his inability to get the idols removed, the then district magistrate K K K Nayyar even offered that he be relieved of the charge. He later got elected to the Lok Sabha on a Hindu Mahasabha ticket.

Later, the first title suit was filed in 1950 by one Gopal Singh Visharad, seeking an injunction for permitting 'pooja' (worship) of Lord Ram at the disputed site.

The second suit was filed by Paramhans Ramchandra Das also in 1950 seeking the same injunction but this was later withdrawn.

The third suit was filed in 1959 by Nirmohi Akhara, seeking direction to hand over the charge of the disputed site from the receiver.

The fourth suit was filed in the 1961 by UP Sunni Central Board of Waqfs for declaration and possession of the site. The fifth suit was moved on July one, 1989 in the name of Bhagwan Shree Ram Lalla Virajman also for declaration and possession.

With one of these suits having been withdrawn, four title suits remained pending in the Faizabad civil court and in 1989, on an application moved by then then Advocate General of UP, these suits were transferred to the High Court.

The dispute got politicised in 1989 when a 'shilanyas' (laying of foundation stone) for the proposed temple gave the whole issue a hype and the police firing ordered on violent karsevaks by the Mulayam Singh government in 1990 polarised votes which may have favoured BJP catapulting Kalyan Singh to power in 1991.

Kalyan ordered acquisition of 2.75 acres of land around the mosque in an apparent bid to show his party's seriousness towards building the temple.

The demolition of the mosque on December 6, 1992 led the Muslims to move contempt application after which Kalyan Singh was awarded a day's imprisonment.

Before the subsequent hearing on the application, the PV Narasimha Rao government at the Centre issued an Ordinance for acquisition of as many as 67 acres of land in and around the disputed site.

Later, in 1994 the Supreme Court ordered abatement of all pending suits and nullified all interim orders issued by various courts in Ayodhya-related cases and said that the land remain under the Centre's custody and status quo be maintained until the Lucknow bench of the high court disposed of the case being heard by a three-judge bench.

Meanwhile, the Centre is likely to reject the Uttar Pradesh government's demand for providing 63,000 personnel to deal with any law and order problem that may arise after the court verdict on Ayodhya title suits and may give only 5,000 additional armed men.

After taking stock of the availability of Central paramilitary personnel, Home Ministry officials are of the opinion that it was practically impossible to provide 63,000 security guards to Uttar Pradesh due to the force constraint. "We are hard pressed. We have deployed forces in Naxal affected states, Jammu and Kashmir, the Northeast and along the international borders. It is simply impossible to withdraw these forces and send such a huge number of personnel to just one state," an official said.

The Home Ministry is also readying its forces for deployment in Delhi during Commonwealth Games and six-phased Bihar Assembly elections next month.

There are demands for Central forces from a few other states too to deal with the law and order problems.

"We are absolutely in a very tight position. 63,000 is a big number. Though we have not taken a final decision, we are planning to give 45 to 50 companies of central force to Uttar Pradesh," the official said.

A company of force comprises nearly 100 personnel.

The Mayawati government had asked the Centre to provide 630 companies of additional paramilitary personnel to deal with any situation arising out of the Allahabad High Court verdict on Ayodhya title suits on September 24.

The Home Ministry has already prepared a contingency plan to deal with any situation arising out of the court judgement.

In an advisory, the Home Ministry has asked all states and Union Territories to give maintaining law and order "topmost priority" as the judgement has the potential to "evoke sharp reactions".

In its communication, the Ministry also informed states and UTs of the activities of various religious groups which have already announced countrywide mass mobilisation and awareness campaign in view of the forthcoming court verdict.

Maintaining that the court verdict "is likely to evoke sharp reactions and communal passions among both Hindus and Muslims depending on the way the judgement goes," the Ministry has asked states and UTs to keep a close watch on activities of religious bodies of both the communities in the run-up to the judgement.

The Home Ministry has asked paramilitary forces, including CRPF and Rapid Action Force (RAF), to be ready with reinforcements as and when needed by states for deployment in sensitive areas prior to the verdict.

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