The legal dispute surrounding the shrine in Ayodhya may see its denouement on September 24.
The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court will deliver its verdict on the matter, which has been pending for six decades.
Apparently realising the sensitivity of the matter, the Uttar Pradesh (UP) government dashed off a letter to the Union home ministry on Wednesday asking for additional deployment of 630 companies of paramilitary forces in the state.
This would mean over 60,000 additional men in uniform will be there to handle any situation arising after the high court order, a top police official said. The Mayawati government reportedly took the step soon after the September 24 date of verdict was fixed.
A three-judge special bench hearing the title suits to decide whether the place of worship was a temple or a mosque had finished hearing in four cases on August 25 and reserved its judgment. According to notices sent out to the parties involved, the verdict would be read out at 3.30 pm on September 24.
Both sides are keeping their fingers crossed for the time being. “We have complete faith in the judiciary and I am sure the entire (minority) community will respect the verdict whichever way it goes,” Zafaryab Jilani, counsel for the Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) says. “It is a rare opportunity to demonstrate the secular credentials of our judicial system and also of the people of our country,” he adds.
“I don’t expect any extreme reactions after the order is pronounced,” says Ranjit Lal Verma, advocate for Nirmohi Akhada, a religious institution in Ayodhya. “It would not be the end of the legal battle. Whichever side loses would have the option to approach the Supreme Court… our judiciary commands immense respect… I am sure both Hindus and Muslims would respect the verdict,” he asserts.
Senior high court advocate IB Singh agrees that the court order may not be the end of the legal dispute, “but it surely promises to lend a touch of finality to the long-pending matter”.
The matter has indeed been hanging fire for long. The legal dispute started in 1950 but the genesis of the trouble goes as far back as 1528 when Mughal emperor Babar’s lieutenant Mir Baqi built a mosque in Ayodhya. Hindus claim it was built on a temple marking the birthplace of their God Ram.
The dispute continued, with communal clashes at times. However, things took a serious turn when some people placed idols of Ram inside the disputed shrine during the night of December 22, 1949.
Ever since the Ayodhya dispute has been a saga of communal strife, political skulduggery, and a point of debate between lawyers and historians. ‘Kar sevaks’ demolished the disputed structure on December 6, 1992, but the controversy surrounding the shrine has refused to die down.