Barring the two annual affairs — a meeting held by the VHP and Bajrang Dal and the other by the members of Babri Masjid Action Committee — and the increased presence of police and paramilitary on the streets, the 22nd anniversary of the demolition of disputed Babri Masjid structure in Ayodhya was like any other day.
Many described the day as “the most relaxed December 6” since 1992, even as Right-wing organisations like the VHP and Bajrang Dal tried to mobilise people in support of Ram temple by urging them to light diyas and mount saffron flags. Hardly any house were visible in the twin cities of Ayodhya and Faizabad that accepted VHP’s request. The annual “shaurya diwas” programme held at Karsevakpuram saw only over a hundred sadhus as participants with little presence of locals.
Head of Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, defended the slim crowd. “Many sadhus are out to recite katha and pravachan so they could not make it to the programme. The response is not mild,” he said.
In his address, Das said the sadhus will work to “inspire” PM Narendra Modi to pave way for the construction of the temple as soon as possible.
Das said if the government finds a way to build the temple and create good atmosphere about it, even the courts will come along on the issue. Referring to Babri masjid litigant Hashim Ansari, Das said it is good that “even Muslims were talking of Ram Lala sitting under a tarpaulin and this shows that even they want to see a Ram temple constructed”.
Except for a few local BJP workers who claimed that they had come to the function as residents of Ayodhya and not BJP workers, no party leaders were part of any function in Ayodhya or Faizabad. The Ram Janmabhoomi Karyashala, where VHP is preparing proposed temple’s construction material, was deserted on Saturday. A VHP functionary there said the people are hesitant of coming to Ayodhya three days before and after December 6.
Everywhere in the town it was business as usual. Amit Gupta, who gives private tuitions, said this was the most relaxed anniversary of Babri demolition, citing no presence of security in residential areas but only markets. However, most of the shops run by Muslims in Ayodhya were closed. Mahmood Ahmad, who runs a cycle rickshaw repair shop, said he had shut his shop like all other Muslims.