Uttar Pradesh turns into a fortress for judgment on historic dispute. Union government is extra careful in 32 locations across the country where it fears trouble.
Thousands of paramilitary personnel stood guard, Uttar Pradesh was put under a security blanket and political leaders appealed for calm on Thursday as the country prepared for verdict of the Allahabad High Court on who should control a disputed holy site in Ayodhya.
The High Court's Lucknow bench, which would be pronouncing the verdict, has been declared a "no-access zone", restricting entry to only those connected with the case listed on Thursday. Paramilitary forces in Uttar Pradesh are keeping an aerial vigil of sensitive places, including the disputed site in Ayodhya,
The intelligence network is on high alert throughout the state to monitor movement and activities of anti-social elements.
Aerial surveys of "sensitive places", including the Ram Janmbhoomi complex in Ayodhya has been done, police sources said.
All the security personnel deployed in Ayodhya and Faizabad have been equipped with tear gas shells and rubber bullets and the gazetted officers of various government departments have been asked to assist in policing. They have also been provided with rubber bullets and tear gas shells.
Helicopters have been kept on alert and asked to keep a vigil on activities of mischievous elements, sources said, adding though there is no ban on movement of people but strict vigil is being maintained and hospitals and doctors have been put on alert to remain prepared in case of any eventuality.
Three dog squads, four bomb disposal squads, five anti-sabotage teams and fire tenders have also been deployed at strategic points in Ayodhya and Faizabad where a total of 20 companies (over 2000 personnel) of CRPF has been deployed for the inner security of the Ram Janmbhoomi complex, besides 38 other companies of police and PAC for the twin towns and 16 other companies for rural areas, police sources said.
In Lucknow, 20 companies of the CPMF, 30 officers and 900 special police officers have been deployed and the sale of liquor and firecrackers has been banned to check any overt display of victory or defeat.
A control room has been set up at the DGP headquarters here with six phone numbers being made public to facilitate any information about trouble makers.
The security of the three judges, who would be pronouncing the verdict, has been increased and one platoon of PAC (about 20 personnel), five CRPF personnel have been deployed at their respective residences, besides an escort and pilot car and one PSO each have also been provided to them.
Madhya Pradesh, one of the six states identified as "hypersensitive" in view of the Ayodhya verdict, is peaceful and there has been no report of tension from any part of the state, said officials in Bhopal. Union Home Minister P Chidambaram spoke to the state's Director General of Police S K Raut about security preparedness on Thursday.
The Orissa government on Thursday deployed security forces in Bhadrak, Kendrapada, Balesore, Jajpur, Rourkela, Rajgangpur, Sambalpur and some other places in the state identified as communally sensitive. "We have kept a close watch on the situation. The district administrations have made elaborate arrangements to maintain law and order. We have also appealed to people not to listen to rumours," said Orissa home secretary U.N. Behera.
Over a lakh police personnel, including special commandoes, anti-riot Quick Reaction Team and Swift Action Group, have been deployed for security in the state. The government has banned processions of any sort in the state. Security has been increased at railway stations, bus depots, religious places and markets since last night. "We are also coordinating with the railway authorities," K Rajendran, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) told Hindustan Times on Thursday.
The state government has asked schools to shut on Thursday and Friday in view of the verdict. Several companies in the state have declared a half day on Thursday. IT giant Infosys has declared a full day holiday on Thursday. In Bangalore, assembly of more than four persons has been restricted under a law called Section 144
The police in West Bengal have banned any rallies or gatherings centering the Ayodhya verdict. Senior police officers' leave has been cancelled and they have been asked to take to the streets from morning. Kolkata was calm on Thursday morning, but attendance was thin in schools. "The situation is calm right now and we are keeping a strict vigil,” said Jawed Shamim, Joint Commissioner of Kolkata Police. The government has declared 18 of the 48 police stations of Kolkata sensitive.
At least 30,000 police personnel have been deployed for security duty in Kerala and the government has cancelled the leave of all police personnel till Saturday. Police are checking railway stations and tracks and bus stands. The government has asked coastal vigilance committees, comprising fishermen, coastal community leaders and local police officers, to help in maintaning security.
The Centre has identified 32 locations across the country where it apprehends trouble and kept forces in readiness at 16 places for quick deployment, including by heavy lift aircraft like IL-76.
With inputs from agencies and Hindustan Times correspondents