For the first time in 28 years, since Babri Mosque demolition, Ayodhya remained uneventful
- Every year since 1992, when ‘karsewaks’ brought the mosque down, December 6 continued to be observed as “Shaurya Diwas” by Hindus
- Sloganeering by protagonists of both the mandir and the mosque were missing this year
- Recital of the Quran was held in the Tehri Bazaar mosque for people killed in violence on December 6, 1992
Twenty-eight years after the 16th century Babri Mosque was demolished on December 6, the holy temple town of Ayodhya remained normal and uneventful.
Visibly, what has brought about this quiet was the Supreme Court verdict of November 2019 that cleared the decks for construction of the much-debated and much-awaited Ram temple, enabling Prime Minister Narendra Modi to carry out ‘bhoomi-pujan’ in August last.
Every year since 1992, when aggressive bands of Hindu ‘karsewaks’ brought the mosque down, December 6 continued to be observed as “Shaurya Diwas” (victory day) by Hindus, while it was a “Black Day” for Muslims.
It used to be a day when organisations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and its allies would stage huge assemblies at the local ‘karsewakpuram,' renewing their resolve to build a grand Ram temple over the debris of the mosque where a makeshift temple was in place right from December 6, 1992. Muslims, on the other hand, chose to stage demonstrations in another corner of Ayodhya where a handful of activists belonging to the Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) under the leadership of Haji Mehboob would take a pledge to fight for the reconstruction of the razed mosque.
Much water has flown down the Saryu river in so many years and no wonder, this December 6 became a totally different experience. Despite the heavy presence of the police which was deployed as a “precautionary measure”, there seemed no tension in the air that used to be always palpable. No traffic barriers, no frisking, no checking made things easier and smooth for commuters.
Neither could one hear the echoing cries of “Jai Shree Ram” nor were any black flags visible anywhere along the streets, lanes or by-lanes of this ancient town, where the most revered Hindu God Ram was believed to have been born.
Sloganeering by protagonists of both the mandir and the mosque were missing. Far from that, bonhomie was visible between what were warring groups until yesterday. Iqbal Ansari, the son of Hashim Ansari, who was the first litigant in the long-drawn Ramjanmbhoomi-Babri Masjid legal battle cheerfully told this scribe, “I advised members of my community that it was time for us to bring an end to putting up black flags in pursuance of observing this day as “yaum-e-gham” (day of sorrow) now that the highest court of the land had ruled in favour of the temple .” He felt, there was a reason for Muslims to rejoice now that a new mosque was going to come up at a distance in Ayodhya.
As per the Supreme Court’s orders, five acres of land had already been allotted for construction of a new mosque Ayodhya's Dhannipur, about 20 km from where the Babri Mosque once stood. The Indo Islamic Cultural Foundation on September 1 last gave the responsibility of designing the mosque, a hospital, an Indo-Islamic research centre and a community kitchen on this land to Jamia Millia Islamia's Prof SM Akhtar who is the chairman of the department of architecture. The design of a modern mosque, which is to be built on about 15,000 sqft land, was stated to be ready.
“There is no ‘Yaum-e-Gham’ this year. No black flags have been hoisted and unlike the past, Muslims have also kept their establishments open today,” said octogenarian Haji Mehboob, who used to lead the ‘black day’ events on this day over the preceding years. “Only recital of the Quran was held in the Tehri Bazaar mosque for those who were killed in violence on December 6, 1992,” he added.
“We have decided to move ahead of the past and convey a message to rest of the Muslim community across the country to forget the past for a better future,” Mehboob further pointed out.
Significantly, both the leading Hindu saints of Ayodhya as well as the VHP had issued appeals to local Hindus not to observe ‘shaurya diwas’ anymore. The appeal was issued by Mahant Kamal Nayan Das, successor designate of leading Ayodhya saint Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, who is the chairman of Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Tirath Kshetra Trust.
Local VHP pointsman Sharad Sharma went on to add, “when the Supreme Court has already decided in favour of Ram Mandir, it does not make sense to carry on with ‘Shaurya Diwas’ ritual. In fact, even ‘Bhoomi Pujan’ of Ram Mandir has taken place and construction of the temple has also begun. So it was time for both Hindus and Muslims to move on.”
Interestingly, even though the verdict in favour of the temple came from the apex court, the popular perception among people of Ayodhya is to give all credit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “But for Modi Ji, we could not have seen the Ram temple coming up at the place of his birth” – is the common refrain of ‘pundits’, shopkeepers, barbers as well as Hindu devotees who continue to throng the banks of the Saryu.