Tensions Soar as Saffron 'Show of Strength' Descends on Ayodhya

The Faizabad district administration has imposed Section 144 at the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid disputed site amid the rising tension and reports of discomfort among minority communities.

New Delhi: A large number of Shiv Sena and Vishwa Hindu Parishad members are set to converge in Ayodhya over the weekend for what is being called a massive ‘show of strength’. The situation is becoming increasingly volatile as the two are meeting in order to push the Centre to take action on the Ram Mandir issue ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Two events have been slated for Sunday. The Shiv Sena chief, Uddhav Thackeray will be in Ayodhya for a two-day visit and is slated to offer prayers at the Ram janmabhoomi, speak to the saints and participate in an aarti by the Sarayu river.

The bigger event, however, is being organised by the VHP – a dharma sansad on Sunday. The organisation indicated that this will be one of the largest congregation of saints and supporters of the Ram temple since 1992, when the Babri Masjid was demolished.

Five train-fulls – around 4,000 Sainiks – started arriving in Ayodhya on Friday night from Maharashtra, while the VHP expects around one lakh workers to attend the dharna sansad on Sunday, reports News18.

Also read: Dates for Hearing Ayodhya Land Case Will Only Be Decided in January, SC Reiterates

The Shiv Sena also expects around 22 MPs and 62 MLAs to attend the two-day ‘show of strength’. Meanwhile, and RSS is reportedly bringing in 80,000 workers by bus, 15,000 by train and 14,000 by motorcycles.

Sources have also told News18 that around one lakh RSS workers, and contingents of sadhus and seers are also expected to pour into the temple town.

Minority populations in neighbouring areas are understandably on edge as instances of such gatherings in the past have resulted in destruction of property – especially in Mirzapur and Kanpur. In 1992, entire houses were burnt down. These events, however, have been enough for Muslim litigants in Ayodhya to file a title suit asking for security.

Senior Shiv Sensa leader Sanjay Raut on Friday stirred the Babri Masjid demolition issue as a way of applying pressure on the BJP to bring an ordinance on Ram Mandir. “The Babri Masjid was demolished in 17 minutes… how long does it take to prepare papers… to bring ordinance… from Rashtrapati Bhawan to Uttar Pradesh assembly… they are all BJP governments,” Raut reportedly said.

Slogans being chanted for rallying people around the cause have also changed from ‘mandir wahin banega’ to ‘mandir jaldi banega’, with the Shiv Sena even approaching the issue by saying ‘pehle mandir, fir sarkar’ – in what is a clear message to the BJP to accept their clamour for Ram temple if they want to retain their Hindutva appeal in UP.

The VHP has also recently released a pamphlet which reads ” augandh Ram ki khaate hai, hum mandir bhavya banayenge (We pledge in the name of Lord Ram that we will build a grand temple for him)”, in an attempt to attract more devotees to the movement.

Also read: The Return of Ayodhya Rhetoric Is BJP’s Attempt to Salvage Its Waning Popularity

In response to the scheduled events over the weekend, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav has urged the Supreme Court to dispatch the army to Ayodhya in order to contain the situation if it gets out of control.

The Faizabad district administration has imposed Section 144 at the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid disputed site amid the rising tension and reports of discomfort among minority communities.

“As many as 13 parking slots have been provided for the event. No permission was given to the Shiv Sena by the government to hold a rally,” the mayor said.

Several top and mid-level police officers, 160 inspectors, 700 constables, ten companies of Central Paramilitary forces, 42 companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), five companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF), Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATF) commandos and drone cameras have been deployed in Ayodhya in preparation for the gatherings.

The Supreme Court on November 12 had declined early hearing of petitions in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute case.

A bench comprising Chief Justices Ranjan Gogoi and S.K. Kaul had said it already listed the appeals before the appropriate bench in January.

Earlier, a three-judge bench, by a 2:1 majority, refused to refer to a five-judge constitution bench the issue of reconsideration of the observations in its 1994 judgement of the Allahabad High Court that a mosque was not integral to Islam.

(With inputs from PTI)