Babri demolition anniversary passes off peacefully (Roundup)

Monday, December 6, 2010

NEW DELHI/AYODHYA/HYDERABAD - The 18th anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya Monday passed off peacefully amid tight security, with no incidents of violence reported from the Uttar Pradesh temple down - the site of the Babri Masjid-Ramjanmabhumi dispute - or other states.

“It is an unprecedented record. The day was absolutely peaceful. But we had not lowered our guard,” a senior central government official involved in the security preparations told IANS on a condition of anonymity.

In Ayodhya, most markets were open and people went about their daily life and work. Barring some muted activity by some Hindu and Muslim groups to mark day and the heavy presence of policemen on the roads, there was no other hint of the demolition anniversary - a day which witnessed angry protests in earlier years.

The day passed off peacefully in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, too. But the southern city saw partial shutdown in Muslim and other communally sensitive areas.

Following a high security alert by the union government, a large number of policemen and paramilitary forces were deployed in several sensitive cities in Uttar Pradesh like Varanasi, Lucknow, Aligarh, Moradabad, Meerut, Kanpur and Gorakhpur.

Several cities outside Uttar Pradesh, including the comunally sensitive Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Surat, Bhiwandi, Coimbatore, Chennai and Kozhikode also witnessed heavy deployment of forces.

In Ayodhya, while many residents termed the normalcy - the first time in 18 years - as an impact of the Sep 30 verdict of the Allahabad High Court in the case, a more common refrain was that of total apathy and indifference towards the issue.

“The Ayodhya temple issue is virtually dead now,” observed V.N. Arora, professor in the town’s only post-graduate college.

It was business as usual in both Ayodhya as well as its twin city of Faizabad, 8 km away. Unlike in the preceding years, no political or religious leader was in the town.

The only other place where a black flag was displayed was a tiny mosque at Beniganj on the threshold of Ayodhya.

Meanwhile, the 90-year-old Mohammad Hashim Ansari, the primary Muslim litigant in the title suit case, was as high-spirited as he was 61 years ago when he moved the local court seeking right to offer ‘namaz’ in the mosque after it was allegedly forcibly occupied by Hindus.

His only regret was failure of his efforts to bring the dispute to an end through an out-of-court settlement after the high court verdict Sep 30.

In Hyderabad, parts of the city remained shut in response to a call given by some Muslim organisations.

Markets around the historic Charminar wore a deserted look. The usual hustle bustle in the popular Laad Bazar, Gulzar Houz, Patthergatti and Madina was missing.

The impact of the shutdown was also visible in areas like Malakpet, Nampally, Mehidpatnam and Toli Chowki. However, normal life remained unaffected in other parts of Hyderabad, its twin city Secunderabad and the IT hub Cyberabad.

A mob of radical Hindus demolished the 16th century Babri mosque Dec 6, 1992, alleging it was built by a liuetenant of Mughal dynasty’s founder Babar after razing a temple built at the birthplace of Hindu deity Ram.

On Sep 30 this year, a three-judge special bench of the Allahabad High Court ruled that the spot in Ayodhya where a makeshift temple was built hastily after razing the mosque was the spot where Ram was born.

It ordered division of the disputed 90 ft by 120 ft piece of land where the Babri Masjid once stood into three parts - one to Ram Lalla deity, one to the Nirmohi Akhara, and one to the Sunni Wakf Board.

Dissatisfied with the judgment, both Hindu and Muslim groups have filed appeals in the Supreme Court.

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