Today, 6 December, the 20th anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992, was like any other day for twin town Ayodhya and Faizabad, which is the district headquarters. Twenty years ago, the demolition of the Bari Masjid had triggered nationwide communal riots and curfew in over 50 towns of Uttar Pradesh. More than 1,000 people were killed in the riots in Mumbai, which were followed by the serial blasts in Mumbai on 12 March 1993.
On the 20th anniversary of the horrendous event, life was as usual in both the towns, including the ritual of protest by Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), observing the as ‘Yaum-e-Gham (mourning day) and ‘Shaurya Diwas’ (bravery day) respectively.
For the first time in the last two decades, marriages are being solemnised in Ayodhya and Faizabad today. In Ayodhya alone, over a dozen families were busy in preparation for hosting the baraat for the marriage of their daughters. In Faizabad too, the marriage halls and guest houses are booked for the day. However, Muslims don’t organise any auspicious event and marriage on account of Moharrum, the first month of Islamic calendar and month of mourning.
“Earlier, we always apprehended trouble on 6 December and we avoided organising any gathering or auspicious event on this day,’’ said TN Tewari, a resident of Faizabad.
The local unit of the BMAC had given a call to Muslims for downing the shutters of their shops and commercial establishments, hoist black flags at their residences and wear black bands. However, the protest call fizzled out. Chowk, the main shopping area of Faizabad city was closed, since Thursday is the weekly closure and schools, government offices and banks were closed on account of the public holiday – the death anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar. The BMAC activists held a small meeting in a local mosque at Ayodhya and staged protest demonstration at Gandhi Park in Faizabad, demanding the restoration of the mosque at the same spot in Ayodhya.
No senior leader from the Sangh Parivar, or from the RSS, VHP or the BJP, was present in the Shaurya Diwas programme of the VHP at its private premises in Karsewakpuram, spread over eight acres, in Ayodhya. It was attended by close to 100 persons, all of whom were locals and Sangh Parivar activists. Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, chairman of the VHP-floated Ram Janma Bhoomi Trust and former BJP MP Mahant Ram Vias Vedantee, were the only two notable persons in the meeting.
The district administration had however made elaborate security arrangements in the twin cities. Barricades were put at all entry points of Faizabad and Ayodhya and all vehicles were checked. The entry of vehicles on all lanes leading to the Ram Janmabhoomi/Babri Masjid complex had already been banned by the police after the terror attack on the makeshift Ram temple at Ayodhya on 5 July 2005. Barring the Karsewakpuram at Ayodhya, no police deployment was seen in the town. The RAF was deployed at the Chowk market of Faizabad, which had witnessed communal violence in October this year.
“Mulk Janmabhoomi se bada mudda hai (nation is a bigger issue than Ram Janmabhoomi), said 92-year-old Hashim Ansari, the original plaintiff in the title suit of Ram Janmabhoomi/Babri Masjid dispute, adding that “we want an amicable settlement of the dispute and free Lord Ram from the cage, but the BJP, with the objective of capturing the throne at Delhi, wants to keep Lord Ram under the tarpaulin cover of the makeshift temple.’’
Former BJP MP and member of the Ram Janma Bhoomi Trust defending the celebration of 6 December as Shaurya Diwas said, “It’s as important as the Independence Day and Republic day, after all, the nation celebrates both the events every year.”