NEW DELHI: The government is fully geared to face the security challenges to be thrown up by the much awaited Ayodhya verdict expected to be delivered by the Supreme Court on Saturday.
The Constitution Bench led by the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had reserved its judgment on October 16, after a marathon 40-day hearing, on the-appeals filed by the Hindu and Muslim bodies challenging the Allahabad high court verdict ordering three-way partition of the disputed Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land among Ram Lalla, Nirmohi Akhara and the Sunni Waqf Board in September 2010.
Governments in all states and union territories have tightened security in sensitive areas following a general advisory issued by the central government. Maximum security has been put in place in Uttar Pradesh, a state ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party which has been batting for a Ram temple in the disputed land. The apex court listed the case fir verdict after the chief justice reviewed the situation in Uttar Pradesh with top officials.
Ayodhya turns into a fortress
Ayodhya, where the disputed land is located has turned into a fortress with the state government deploying over 12,000 policemen from the state and 4,000 paramilitary personnel from the state across the temple town. Uttar Pradesh police chief, OP Singh said that more forces including Provincial Armed Constabulary will be pushed into Ayodhya before the judgement and if needed National Security Act (NSA) will be imposed on elements who attempt to disrupt law and order.
The Ayodhya district has been divided into different security zones - red, yellow, green and blue - to deal with untoward incident. While the red and yellow zones will be secured by the Central Para Military Forces (CPMF), the green and blue zones will be looked after by the civil police.
The red security zone covers the disputed site, the yellow zone covers five miles periphery of Ayodhya, the green zone covers 14 miles periphery of the temple town and the blue zone covers the adjoining districts of Ayodhya, according to news agency PTI.
The government has made an officer of the Additional Director General as in-charge of the security measures in Ayodhya. Two helicopters will be kept on standby in Lucknow and Ayodhya to assist the police in case of emergency. A state-level control room has been set up in Lucknow to monitor the situation. All district headquarters will also have district-level control rooms.
The forces have been given training to deal with terror attacks, communal riots, public resentment, any danger to the disputed site and all possible loopholes. The assembly of more than four people is prohibited in Ayodhya town and district till the end of December.
Over 700 schools have been taken over to accommodate the security forces. About 15 schools and colleges have been kept ready to serve as jails if need arise.
Curb on Social Media
All social platforms are being closely monitored. Any attempts to inflame passions over social media may invite action under the NSA. Sharing and liking any contentious posts about the Ayodhya verdict will also attract police action, according to an order by the Ayodhya District Magistrate.
The Ayodhya police have launched a mobile application connecting 16,000 volunteers in 1,600 villages with 10 volunteers each. These volunteers will keep a track on the ground situation and inform the police teams about any possible attempts to disturb the environment in the run up to the verdict.
Railways issue advisory
The Railway police have tightened security to the trains across the country in the run up to the verdict. The Railway Protection Force has cancelled leave granted to the personnel and asked them to engage in escorting trains.
An advisory issued by the RPF said that they will keep a close watch on all religious structures near railway stations or within its premises as they may become a “flash points” in case tempers run high. It has also instructed caretakers of such structures not to leave them unguarded.
Railways have identified around 78 major stations with high footfall for increased security. They include railway stations in Mumbai, Delhi, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. Additional RFP personnel are being posted at platforms, railway stations, yard, parking space, bridges and tunnels as well as production units and workshops.
The government is adopting maximum caution as the five-judge constitution bench verdict will be the final word on the issue. The country had not faced any major law and order problem when the Allahabad high court passed the judgement nine years ago as the plaintiffs had the option of appeal in the top court.
But Chief Justice Gogoi has been decisive and pushed the lawyers incessantly to stick to the deadline. The Bench had sat through the weekdays since August 6 to finish the hearings. The initial deadline was October 18. With Chief Justice Gogoi set to retire on November 17, the Bench had said it would need at least a month to write the judgment. However, the hearings have been wrapped up two days before the October 18 mark.
After keeping the appeals in cold storage for eight years, the Supreme Court fast tracked the hearing in the case. The marathon 40-day hearing is the second-longest hearing in the top court’s history after the landmark 68 days of proceedings in the Keshavananda Bharati case.
Besides the chief justice, the bench also included Justices S.A. Bobde, D.Y. Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer. The main arguments laid down by the Hindu side is that Lord Ram was born under what was the central dome of the Babri Masjid, before the mosque was demolished by kar sevaks on December 6 of 1992.
They have cited photographs from the Archaeological Survey of India excavations to prove that a large religious structure pre-existed the Babri Masjid. They said Mughal Emperor Babur demolished the temple to build the mosque.
The Muslim side, on the other hand, has argued that the Muslims have exclusive title over the land and the Hindus were given only prescriptive rights to enter and pray at the Ram Chhabutra. They sought the restoration of the property to what it was prior to December 1992.
Prime Minister’s appeal
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the UP Chief Minister have appealed to all communities to maintain peace and accept the verdict. Modi has asked his ministers to refrain from making any statements on the verdict. The BJP has also issued a code of conduct for its office bearers.
The PM’s appeal is considered significant since the governments in both Uttar Pradesh as well as the Centre are led by the BJP, which has been at the forefront of the Ram temple movement. Thee party has four years promised to build the Ram temple at Ayodhya in its election manifesto in both state and union elections.
The issue has seen deep divisions between Hindus and Muslims. The first suit in the case was filed on January 19, 1885. The subsequent protracted legal battle saw many twists and turns. It is not clear whether the coming verdict will finally resolve the issue or not. The country is waiting with baited breath for an answer.
Image Credit: Indian Express