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Liberhan report, demolition anniversary…but Ayodhya remains silent

Thursday, December 03, 2009 12:42:20 PM, Sharat Pradhan IANS

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Ayodhya: The Liberhan Commission report might be creating ripples in the corridors of power in New Delhi. And preparations for the 17th anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Mosque Dec 6 might also be in full swing. Yet, back on ground zero, all appears to be quiet.

 

Everything appears to have come to a grinding halt at the workshop in Ayodhya where stones were being cut, carved and chiselled for giving shape to a proposed “grand” Ram temple in place of the make-shift temple that stands on the debris of the mosque.

 

“Way back in 2005, we completed the cutting and carving of all stones required for the ground floor of the proposed two-storey temple; since then we have been waiting for the stones to be formally installed,” workshop manager Anubhai Sonpura told IANS.

 

“Pillars for the first floor were also ready, but the remaining part of the construction of the ceiling and tower was to be carried out at the site of the construction only; and that would not be possible unless way was formally paved for the construction of the proposed temple,” added Sharad Sharma, head of the local Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) unit.

 

Every inch of the sprawling workshop spread over an area of some 15,000 sq ft was packed with neatly sculptured pink Dholpur stone. The additional space at the annexe of the workshop some distance away was equally stuffed with stone pillars and motifs.

 

The silence and solitude at the workshops was strange for those who had seen the place bustling with activity amidst the groaning of special stone saws, the resounding noise of the hammer and the chisel incessantly beating at the stone slabs until a few years ago.

 

Incidentally, no cement mortar was proposed to be used in the construction that was to be carried out with pre-fabricated stone slabs and pillar to be wedged with each other.

 

Life goes on as usual on the lanes and bylanes of Ayodhya, where Dec 6 has become like any other day. The traditional observance of the demolition anniversary as “shaurya diwas” (victory day) by the VHP and “black day” by the Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) was nothing more than a ritual, rarely attended by more than a handful for the past many years.

 

“We do not see any reason for any major event this time on Dec 6; the Liberhan Commission report means nothing to the people of Ayodhya; as long as outsiders are not allowed to incite trouble and provoke people, this town prefers to move at its own pace,” Suphal Kumar, owner of a thriving sweetmeat shop in Ayodhya’s main thoroughfare, told a visiting IANS correspondent.

 

For Saraswati Devi, who sells ‘puja’ articles along the road to the makeshift temple, Dec 6 means poor business, as “the inflow of pilgrims goes down on account of enhanced policing around that time”.

 

According to Faizabad Senior Superintendent of Police R.P.S. Rathore, “the makeshift temple draws anything between 500-1,500 pilgrims on any given day, while on special religious festivals like Ram Navami, the figure goes up several fold”.

 

Officials records confirm that the shrine has received as much as Rs.36 million (Rs. 3.6 crores) ever since it was set up on the debris of the 16th century mosque on the evening of Dec 6, 1992. Sure enough, that speaks volumes of the attention that it receives from devotees.

 

Rathore too does not deny that Dec 6 is known for low turnout of pilgrims. “Deployment of cops is obviously increased on every Dec 6, but we do not restrict anyone from visiting the temple; however, what can we do if people avoid coming on their own,” he said.

 

“Though we have taken all necessary preventive measures to meet any contingency, I see no reason for any enhanced activity this time,” he added.

 

The Liberhan panel report, which was tabled in parliament Nov 24, has indicted members of the Sangh Parivar for demolition of the 16th century mosque in Ayodhya. The vandalism and destruction triggered communal riots across the country.

 

Sharat Pradhan can be contacted at sharat.p@ians.in

 

 

 

 

 

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