The much-anticipated Ayodhya verdict is due any day now. With current Chief Justice, Ranjan Gogoi, set to end his term on 17th November — and the verdict due before the end of his tenure — all fingers are crossed for the next few days. India has witnessed a long and bloody dispute to get to this point in history. (Quick recap: The Ayodhya dispute is essentially now a political and sociological dispute in India, centred on a plot of land in the city of Ayodhya — believed by some Hindus to be the birthplace of deity Rama. The Babri Masjid, which stood on the disputed land, was destroyed during a political rally which turned into a riot on 6th December 1992.)
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It might be important to remember that the legal disputes over this piece of land are centuries-old, and did not start with the destruction of the mosque in 1992. In fact, the first one was filed in 1885 by Mahant Raghubar Das, who was refused permission to build a temple alongside the existing mosque — and took his case to court. Ironically enough, the court rejected his appeal in 1886.
“In 1934, fresh communal riots took place in Ayodhya over the killing of a cow, leading to a mob of Hindus breaking into the area and damaging the Babri Masjid. While they eventually helped pay for repairs to the site, the Nirmohi Akhara bases on of its key legal claims — of possession over the site, from this year.
On the night of 22-23 December 1949, the next major development in the case took place, when idols of Ram, Sita and Laxman were placed inside the mosque. Local authorities disobeyed orders by the government to remove the idols on the pretext that this would cause communal riots.
In 1959, the first proper title suit was filed by the Nirmohi Akhara, who claimed ownership over the land and challenged the decision of the district court in 1949 to place the land under receivership.
In 1961, the Sunni Central Board of Waqfs, UP, filed its own title suit, along with several Muslim residents of Ayodhya. The Sunni Waqf Board challenged the receivership granted to the administration, and also challenged the suits filed by Visharad and the Nirmohi Akhara.
They asked for a declaration that the Babri Masjid was a mosque that was part of the waqf property, and that the area around it was a Muslim graveyard.
Then, on 1st July 1989, a new title suit was filed by Bhagwan Sri Ram Virajman (the god’s idol, also known as Ram Lalla Virajman) and Sri Ram Janmabhoomi (the birthplace). These deities were represented by their ‘next friend’, retired judge Deoki Nandan Agarwala, who was associated with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).”
On 30 September 2010, the Allahabad High Court delivered a verdict on this case, dividing the land between these three above-mentioned parties. This verdict disappointed all parties, and they all eventually filed Supreme Court petitions. Now, the Supreme Court is all set to pass its judgement in the next few days.
Ahead of the historic verdict, though, authorities have been taking strong measures to ensure security in sensitive areas.
“Ahead of the Supreme Court verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case, the Ministry of Home Affairs told states to remain alert and ensure security in sensitive areas.
The MHA has also dispatched around 4,000 paramilitary personnel for deployment in Uttar Pradesh, particularly in Ayodhya.
According to PTI, a general advisory has been sent to all states and Union territories asking them to deploy adequate security personnel in all sensitive places and ensure that no untoward incident takes place anywhere in the country, a home ministry official said.
The ministry has rushed 40 companies of paramilitary forces to Uttar Pradesh to assist the state government in maintaining law and order. A company of paramilitary forces comprises about 100 personnel.
According to PTI, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) has issued a seven-page advisory to all zones on security preparedness ahead of the Supreme Court verdict in Ayodhya case asking them to keep a close watch on religious structures near and within railways stations as they may be “flashpoints” of violence.”
So, what now?
As the judgement day draws nearer, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also asked the public and all his Cabinet colleagues to help maintain calm during these trying times.
““Accept the verdict in all humility,” Modi is learnt to have advised his council of ministers, asking them to refrain from making unnecessary statements on the issue and maintain an atmosphere of amity and harmony.
He also emphasised that the verdict should not be seen through the prism of victory and defeat, added the sources.”
Keep your eyes on this space. We’ll keep you updated.