The sitting Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi is set to retire on November 17. It is being widely reported that the Ayodhya verdict is expected to be delivered by November 15, which happens to be CJI Gogoi’s last working day. A CJI Gogoi-led Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court had heard the dispute and the hearing ended on October 16 last month. This dispute which has been languishing before the courts for more than 100 years is finally going to be decided conclusively.
The Ayodhya dispute is a sensitive matter and instantly connected to the faith of crores of people across the country. The 1990s witnessed extensive riots across several states and the death toll ran into hundreds. Now, the Supreme Court verdict is going to bring an end to the longstanding dispute. However, anti-social elements could incite hatred and communal passions, whichever way the verdict goes and therefore the government seems to have taken some effective preventive steps ahead of the historic verdict.
What makes the present situation even more sensitive is the fact that Ayodhya, the birthplace of Lord Ram is going to see a heavy rush of pilgrims next week on the occasion of Karthik Purnima. In fact, lakhs of devotees are expected to gather in Ayodhya for the Karthik Purnima Snan.
The Centre has reportedly rushed 4,000 paramilitary personnel to the state of Uttar Pradesh. The state would obviously bear the direct consequence of any communal flare-ups post-Ayodhya verdict being the epicentre of the dispute owing to physical proximity, and therefore the Centre is trying to ensure that any untoward incident is avoided in the state.
The Railway Police Force (RPF) has also stepped up vigil at 78 railway stations and on trains given the sensitive nature of the Ayodhya verdict. The force has also cancelled the leave of its personnel. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has also sent a general advisory to all the states and Union Territories asking them to deploy adequate security personnel at all sensitive places.
Meanwhile, PM Modi also discussed the sensitive Ayodhya verdict matter with his Council of Ministers on Wednesday. He asked the ministers to avoid making unnecessary statements about the Ayodhya dispute and to maintain harmony across the country. He also asserted the need to maintain an atmosphere of amity and harmony in the country. The BJP too has also asked its workers and spokespersons to avoid making any provocative remarks about the Ayodhya verdict. BJP social media head, Amit Malviya also briefed social media teams of the party on how to avoid making controversial statements from such platforms.
Security has been beefed up in Mumbai as well, especially in the sensitive areas of the city. It must be noted that the city had witnessed communal riots after the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992. Prohibitory orders have been put in place in Mumbai and no celebratory processions or mourning will be allowed in the city with respect to the judgment on the Ram Mandir dispute. Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Barve said, “Elaborate security arrangements are being made with extra precautions in sensitive areas. As this will be the verdict of the apex court, every person should accept it as a citizen of the country and not as any community member.”
It must be noted that a few days ago the RSS took a commendable decision of not taking out celebratory processions in case the Ayodhya verdict goes in favour of the Hindus, in its key meeting at Delhi. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has also asked its workers across the country not to take out processions or give reactions about the apex court judgment, whichever way the Supreme Court judgment goes. Apart from this, several office bearers of leading Muslim bodies, clerics and intellectuals from the community have also stated that the apex court verdict should be respected by all and have also resolved to maintain peace and harmony at all cost after the Ayodhya verdict.
Given the sensitive nature of the dispute and the fact that the sentiments of crores of people are closely attached to the Ayodhya verdict, it is only prudent on the part of the Modi government to take necessary precautions in order to avoid communal tensions and violent riots. Though it is Ayodhya that bears the direct risk of communal riots, its reverberations might be felt beyond Ayodhya too given the sentiments and emotions attached with this issue, and that is why preventive steps are being taken across the country. What is particularly commendable is the fact that RSS, VHP and top Muslim organisations have appealed for peace ahead of the verdict which should douse any communal passions that could arise after the verdict.