With four days to go before the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court passes its verdict, the political and religious atmosphere is overflowing with anticipation and hope but within the confines of restraint. In parks, over dinners, and over casual meetings, the underlying tension is what’s going to happen on September 24 post-judgement. Let us not have violence, is the hope.
At the Centre, however, so strong is the expectation of violence following the High Court judgement on the title suit, that the Prime Minister’s Office had to intervene and issue a 288-word appeal.
“It is necessary for all sections of the people of India to maintain equanimity and tranquillity in the aftermath of the judgment,” the September 16 appeal stated. “There should be no attempt whatsoever made by any section of the people to provoke any other section or to indulge in any expression of emotion that would hurt the feelings of other people.”
In other words, shun violence.
Separately, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) — the party that had assured the country and the court that the building of the temple would only be a symbolic gesture on December 6, 1992 — is once again promising that their actions will be legal and constitutional reaction, not violent.
“We will respect the verdict of the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court on the Ayodhya title suit,” BJP national vice-president Kalraj Mishra told reporters.
“I have told my party MPs in the parliamentary party meeting that I would request you not to speculate,” BJP senior leader L.K. Advani said . “We will take a decision on what would be the reaction once the court verdict is out.”
The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) too, while organising meetings, is talking peace . “All Hindus should come forward and take part because it is a religious movement and it doesn’t have anything to do with vote bank politics,” said Prakash Sharma, the national joint organiser of the Shri Hanumat Shakti Jagran Samiti — an initiative under which 45 religious leaders will get together in Delhi to decide how to react to the judgement. “Our religious leaders have emphasised that people should not take part in any kind of violent activities and must not politicise the issue.”
The other side has asked for restraint as well. “The Centre hasn’t made it clear if it would abide by the high court verdict on the title suit,” S.Q.R. Ilyas, convenor of the Babri Masjid committee of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board said. “The Centre is only looking at the political benefits it can hope to reap, particularly with the Bihar polls round the corner.” He also said that the if the verdict comes in their favour, they will welcome it but without any celebration or demonstration so as not to hurt the sentiments of others.
Overall there is a feeling of holding back, a sense that what happened on December 6, 1992 was wrong and that in a civilised nation the law of the land must stand strong. And most important, the common sense that this order is not the end of the issue — there is the Supreme Court to go to.