Alert, India waits for Ayodhya ruling today

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi/ Lucknow | Updated: Sep 30 2010, 06:51am hrs
States across the country went on alert as the countdown began for the verdict on Thursday on the decades-old title suits over the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya. Security was stepped up across states and reinforcements tightened in and around the disputed site. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi appealed for equanimity and tranquility in the aftermath of the court verdict, asking people to accept whatever the decision on the title suits.

Home minister P Chidambaram, expressing confidence that there would be no trouble after the judgement, said: I think India has moved on, young people have moved on. Young people have recognised that the India story is much more than a dispute over a place to which one religious group claims they are entitled to than another religious group... that bigger story should not be derailed over a dispute over a piece of land.

Pointing out that political parties and religious leaders have appealed for peace, Chidambaram said, I think India has moved on, especially people who were born after 1992. They have a very different world view.

In the twin towns of Ayodhya and Faizabad, searches were being carried out and security personnel deployed there equipped with tear gas shells and rubber bullets.

The area around the building of the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court, which will pronounce the verdict at 3.30 pm on Thursday, was declared a no-access zone. Security of the three judges on the benchJustices SU Khan, Sudhir Agarwal and D V Sharmahas already been increased.

Lucknow DM Anil Kumar Sagar said only persons related to the title suits would be allowed entry to Court No. 21 and can exit only after the verdict is delivered. Any overt display of victory or defeat after the pronouncement of verdict has also been banned by the administration. Any such attempt will be firmly dealt with, DIG Rajeev Krishna said.

Uttar Pradesh sealed its borders with Nepal and Uttarakhand and, as a preventive measure, ordered closure of liquor and firecrackers shops tomorrow. Securitymen staged flag marches in Ayodhya, Varanasi and Mathura. The UP government has identified 25 districts as sensitive and 19 others as hyper-sensitive.

The Centre has kept forces in readiness at 16 places for quick deployment, including by helicopters and heavy-lift aircraft like Il-76 and An-32. The Home Ministry issued an advisory to states and Union Territories to keep the forces on high alert as the judgement could trigger sharp reactions.

Chidambaram said 1.90 lakh security personnel were available in Uttar Pradesh, more than enough to maintain law and order there.