Mass appeal of Babri demolition issue lost
Fourteen years after Babri mosque demolition, the once emotive issue appears to have lost its mass appeal.india Updated: Dec 06, 2006 18:27 IST
Fourteen years after a Hindu mob pulled down the Babri mosque in the Uttar Pradesh town of Ayodhya, the once emotive issue appears to have lost its mass appeal.
Even as rival groups have planned a symbolic "celebration" as well as protests against the razing on Wednesday, indications are that both will remain no more than routine annual rituals.
Tens of thousands of people allied mainly to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) razed the 16th-century mosque on December 6, 1992, saying it stood on the birthplace of Hindu god Rama. The event triggered nationwide communal violence.
No prominent leader - either from VHP or any Islamic fundamentalist body - proposes to be in or around Ayodhya on Wednesday, residents and officials in Lucknow said.
In keeping with tradition, VHP activists will observe "Shaurya Diwas" (Victory Day) while the Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) will observe a "Black Day" with a protest rally in the nearby town of Faizabad, where its volunteers will offer themselves for arrest.
VHP chief Ashok Singhal proposes to hold a Hindu gathering in a corner of the walled city of Lucknow, 120 km from Ayodhya. His second-in-command and the more aggressive Praveen Togadia has decided to keep away from Uttar Pradesh.
Yet the administration is taking no chances. It has intensified security arrangements in and around the ancient Hindu temple town, located on the banks of the river Saryu.
"We cannot take chances. We sought eight additional companies of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) to be deployed at all strategic points in Ayodhya," District Magistrate Amod Kumar said.
"Though there is no report of any kind of threat from any quarter, we have taken certain preventive measures," he said.
This includes banning the assembly of four or more people in and around Ayodhya town.
According to VHP's Sharad Sharma, Ayodhya's most prominent Hindu holy man, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, would lead the "Shaurya Diwas" celebrations.
Mahant Gopal Das also heads the Ramjanmbhoomi Trust, which has been entrusted with the mission to build a grand temple at the site where the Babri mosque once stood.
Hindus visit in large numbers a makeshift temple that was erected on the ruins of the Babri mosque.
However, the onset of December 6 has reduced the number of pilgrims due to fears that the anniversary might see violence.
A group of terrorists targeted the makeshift temple on July 5, 2005. The security forces shot dead all five attackers.