Babri verdict: Govt on edge
Memories of the riots that followed the Babri Masjid’s demolition on December 6, 1992, have made the state government jittery ahead of Friday’s Allahabad High Court verdict on the Ayodhya dispute.mumbai Updated: Sep 22, 2010 01:01 IST
Memories of the riots that followed the Babri Masjid’s demolition on December 6, 1992, have made the state government jittery ahead of Friday’s Allahabad High Court verdict on the Ayodhya dispute.
The government has pulled out all stops to ensure that the day passes without incident.
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan was in a series of meetings on Tuesday with editors, religious leaders and politicians to ensure the verdict does not lead to any violence. Chavan spoke to Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray as well as Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray. “Both assured me that there would be no violent reaction to the verdict,” Chavan said.
The Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have taken a cautious stance, telling cadres not to indulge in any violence.
The riots of December 1992 and January 1993 were the worst ever in Mumbai’s history. Over 900 people died. The violence was followed by the serial bomb blasts of 1993, the worst ever terrorist attacks in India. They were masterminded by don Dawood Ibrahim and aided by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence.
All this had political ramifications. In elections held two years later, the Congress was dislodged from power and replaced by the right-wing Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine.
With the Congress and its allies back in the saddle now, they are wary of polarisation of votes again.
They don’t want to provide any more opportunities for terrorist outfits to exploit either.
“The riots gave the Sena a national identity. The 1995 Assembly results were linked to strident Hindutva and the communal violence of 1992-93,” said political analyst Surendra Jondhale. He said that while the BJP and Sena leaderships were being cautious, they could not control the reactions of local Sena leaders or hardline allied outfits such as the Bajrang Dal.
“There may be sporadic incidents, but the city has suffered too much earlier. On the whole, good sense will prevail. That’s reflected in the stance taken by all major political parties,” said a senior Home Department official on condition of anonymity.
“We are not worried about the big guns. We are more worried about local leaders, who may create trouble for gains in the upcoming civic elections,” said Naseem Khan, guardian minister for the suburbs.
In the next one-and-a-half years, polls will be held for more than half a dozen civic bodies — including Mumbai, Nashik, Ulhasnagar and Thane. The first such election will be held in Kalyan-Dombivli in October, where the Sena-BJP holds sway.
Chavan said the government met with various stakeholders over the last three days to minimise any attempts at creating trouble. “The political parties and religious leaders signed a joint appeal, copies of which will be circulated in the city,” he added.
The police too issued a note asking for calm during the Ganesh immersions on Wednesday and after the verdict on Friday. Terrorist outfits have threatened violence and the police are on alert. The press note was signed by eminent sports personalities such as Dilip Vengsakar, BS Sandhu, Vinod Kambli and Dhanraj Pillai.