Helicopters with powerful searchlights were pressed into service to tighten security in Ayodhya a day before the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court delivers its verdict on the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi title suits on Thursday.
The authorities have also ensured that Ayodhya will be completely sealed within seconds if any untoward incident breaks out in any part of the country and has the possibility of spilling over to Uttar Pradesh.
The state government’s airstrip in neighbouring Faizabad has been prepared to enable landing and take-off of aircraft in the night if needed.
“Air surveillance will carry on through Wednesday night and Thursday,” Faizabad Senior SP R.K.S. Rathore said.
District officials said air surveillance would be carried out at random so that no pattern is visible. The authorities declined to disclose the number and type of helicopters being used.
On the ground, the authorities have put up barricades at every road coming into Ayodhya and Faizabad. Vehicles were allowed to pass after a thorough search at every barricade.
Despite tight security in clamped in Ayodhya, there is no sign of tension among people in the town. The tension that had vanished after the Supreme Court had stayed the High Court verdict on September 23, the town on which the national spotlight is focused has an air of relaxation about it.
“Thank god, there is no further deferment or else the security personnel too would begin looking as relaxed as we people of Ayodhya,” said Shankar Lal Pareikh, a shopkeeper at Hardwari Bazaar of Ayodhya.
The security personnel did not appear tense either. A cop sat at a tea stall and sang folk songs while his colleagues sat around him — smoking, sipping tea and cheering him on.
More shops remained open till the closure time of 8 pm than witnessed on September 22 and the day after. Mange Lal, a vegetable vendor near the railway station, said, “Last week people had begun hoarding vegetables and other essential commodities fearing a negative fallout of the verdict. Now, I don’t find any such tendency.”
Former Karsevak plea for peace
Sudhir Nag still wants a temple where Babri Masjid once stood. But he wants peace too.
On October 30, 1990, Nag, a student-karsevak, joined a violent mob to agitate for his dream temple. But he and one of his friends, Arvind Rastogi, got hit when the police opened fire.
Now a mobile phone shop-owner and a father of two children, Nag (41) has appealed for peace after the verdict. Reliving that day, Nag says, “I was sure I would die because a bullet hit me under the right eye.” He fought for his life for six months in hospitals and had a series of plastic surgeries to look like a normal human being. htc