While complete calm prevailed across the country on Friday, the day after the Ayodhya verdict, incipient signs of trouble were visible with Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav saying Muslims were feeling cheated.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati promptly held a press conference to warn that her administration would take strict action against those attempting to ‘vitiate the communal atmosphere’ after the verdict, while in New Delhi, Home Minister P Chidambaram complimented the nation for its mature response.
"I would like to appeal to the people that they should not get influenced by provocative statements being made by some persons,” Mayawati said, without naming Mulayam, emphasising too that Thursday’s verdict was not final, as recourse to the Supreme Court remained.
"We’re pleased and satisfied with the response of people which has been respectful and dignified,” said Chidambaram.
But Yadav, who has built his political career on the plank of strong opposition to the Ayodhya movement — he prevented an earlier attempt in October 1990 to demolish the Babri Masjid by ordering police firing on rampaging kar sevaks — did not mince words.
"I am disappointed at the judicial verdict that gives precedence to faith over law and evidence,” he said. “This does not augur well for the country, the Constitution and the judiciary itself. Muslims in the country are feeling cheated. There is a sense of despair in the entire community.”
In contrast, Chidambaram took care to emphasise the judgment, though giving due consideration to Hindu belief, did not in any way condone the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992.
"That act was completely unacceptable and it was an act done by people who took law and order into their hands. That remains a criminal act. Do not attribute to the judges (who passed the verdict) any attempt to justify what was done in 1992,” he said.