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Monday, Nov 18, 2019

Uttar Pradesh on alert, security stepped up in Ayodhya

Additional chief secretary Mukul Singhal said that an order was issued on Wednesday advising heads of all state government departments, divisional commissioners and district magistrates against granting leave to field officers except in unavoidable circumstances until the end of November.

india Updated: Oct 17, 2019 06:13 IST
Rajesh Kumar Singh and Pawan Dixit
Rajesh Kumar Singh and Pawan Dixit
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
A general view of Ayodhya city.
A general view of Ayodhya city.(ANI Photo)
         

The Uttar Pradesh government has reinforced security across the state, cancelled the leave of all police and administrative officers on the field until November 30 and issued directions to district police chiefs to ensure communal harmony, according to officials aware of the development.

Additional chief secretary Mukul Singhal said that an order was issued on Wednesday advising heads of all state government departments, divisional commissioners and district magistrates against granting leave to field officers except in unavoidable circumstances until the end of November.

Singhal cited the festival season for the cancellation of leave and directed strict compliance with the order. HT has seen a copy of the order.

A government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said security has been strengthened also in view of the Supreme Court’s upcoming verdict on Ayodhya land title dispute.

The Supreme Court concluded a 40-day hearing in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit on Wednesday and reserved its verdict on the disputed 2.77 acres of land in Ayodhya.

The official cited above said that police superintendents have been directed to take “effective measures” to maintain communal harmony and law and order in the state. He said that the state government on Tuesday named nodal police officers across the state’s 75 districts to assist the local officers in maintaining law and order.

Top officials, including chief secretary R K Tiwari, additional chief secretary Awanish Kumar Awasthi and Uttar Pradesh police chief O P Singh, reviewed security arrangements in Ayodhya and neighbouring districts on Tuesday.

The officers also reviewed the preparations for Deepotsav being organised on the eve of Diwali on October 26 in Ayodhya. The event has been celebrated in Ayodhya since the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in Uttar Pradesh in March 2017. Chief minister Yogi Adityanath will preside over the Deepotsav as the state government has set a target of lighting 550,000 earthen lamps on the occasion. Last year, a record 300,000 lamps were lit there and earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Awasthi said that security arrangements in and around the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid area as well as the entire temple town had been strengthened. The district magistrates and superintendents of police of Ayodhya and the neighbouring districts have been directed to remain alert and deploy extra police forces in sensitive areas.

Over the weekend, authorities in Ayodhya imposed Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, prohibiting the assembly of more than four people ,in view of the festive season and the upcoming Ayodhya verdict. It will be in force until December 10. Officials said that the imposition of Section 144 was also necessary due to the anniversary of the demolition of Babri Masjid on December 6.

A police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said extra police forces had been deployed in Gorakhpur, Varanasi and Prayagraj zones. “Provincial Armed Constabulary [PAC] would be stationed in all the districts in eastern Uttar Pradesh. Central paramilitary forces and the PAC will guard the temple town. Anti-Terrorist Squad and bomb disposal squads will be deployed at the disputed site [in Ayodhya],’’ he said.

Alam Abdi, a local resident, hoped that the government will ensure safety and security of Ayodhya’s Muslims. “The masjid-mandir issue is no more an issue for the common Muslims. It is only an issue for the leaders,” Abdi said. “We want the issue to be resolved once for all.”

Achlendra Singh, another resident, said that Ayodhya is again in news and every time there is focus on it, the locals get worried. “The old generation has memories of the violent past. We do not want a repeat of the past incidents. Everybody wants Ram Mandir but not at the cost of human lives.”