Ayodhya: With most
markets open, people going about their daily life and work, and
muted activity by some Hindu and Muslim groups, it was only the
heavy presence of policemen on the roads in the temple town of
Ayodhya that hinted Monday was the 18th anniversary of the Babri
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 since 1992
when the 16th century mosque was brought down by mobs of fanatic
Hindus, no political or religious leader was in the town.
Even the annual ritual of the "Shaurya Diwas" (Bravery Day) by
some Hindus and "Black Day" by Muslims was a subdued, lacklustre
affair this year. Both sides did come up with their respective
alibi for their low-profile shows.
"We never asked any big leader to participate in this year's
shaurya Diwas ‘yagya' that was limited only to a a handful of
local sadhus," said local Vishwa Hindi Parishad (VHP) spokesman
Sharad Sharma. "Today's ‘yagya' was led by Swami Ram Vilas Vedanti,
who apart from being a prominent VHP leader, is a former MP," he
Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) convenor Yunus Siddiqui said
that they too did not call any one from outside this time "as we
wanted to confine ourselves to our office where we have put up a
The only other place where a black flag was displayed was a tiny
mosque at Beniganj on the threshold of Ayodhya.
Unlike in the past, when Muslim shopkeepers chose to keep their
shutters down as a mark of protest against the demolition, a bulk
of these remained open Monday.
"What is the point in shutting our shop now when the high court
has already given its verdict, against which an appeal has already
been made before the apex court?" asked Bashir, a tailor.
The normalcy was welcomed by local businessmen.
Krishna Kumar, who runs a restaurant down the town's main street,
looked happy at the brisk business he did Monday. "Never in the
past 18 years did I have such sales on Dec 6 as today," he said.
Ashish Kumar Yadav, who sells 'namkeen' (salted tidbits) out of a
hand cart not very far from the entrance to the makeshift Ram
temple, was equally thrilled with the number of customers because
many devotees were visiting the temple on this day. "Very few
people would visit the temple Dec 6, but that was not the case
this time. It is good for me," he said.
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. The court ordered trifurcation of the land,
apportioning one-third to the Ram Lalla deity, one-third to a
Hindu sect and one-third to the Sunni Wakf Board.
"I was all for closing the chapter once and for all and several
prominent Hindus of Ayodhya were also agreeable to sitting across
the table to resolve the issue instead of taking the battle to the
Supreme Court, but some people did not seem to like the idea," he