New Delhi/Mumbai/Ayodhya: Ahead of the Supreme Court verdict on the Ayodhya dispute, state governments and security agencies across the nation have begun setting arrangements to prevent any untoward incidents.
A five-judge Supreme Court bench had heard the Ayodhya case on a day-to-day basis for 40 days and reserved its verdict on October 16. The apex court is expected to deliver its verdict on a dispute over the ownership of 2.77 acres of land in Ayodhya before November 17, when Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi retires.
The Hindu parties, during the hearing, had argued that the entire 2.77 acres of land is the birthplace of Lord Ram while the Muslim parties claimed the title over the land, saying Muslims had ownership of the land since 1528 when the mosque was built.
Restrictions in Ayodhya
The Uttar Pradesh government had issued strict guidelines disallowing people from posting offensive posts on social media on deities. The order restricts even the electronic media from conducting debates in Ayodhya during this period.
The order said that all calls made during this period will be recorded and scanned.
The four-page directive issued on October 31, which will be in force till December 28, prohibits people from posting defamatory remarks on social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, etc.
The order issued by Ayodhya district magistrate also restricts installation of any idol of any deity as well as victory procession on the day of the judgment.
Collecting stones or bricks has been banned and sale of kerosene and acid has also been stopped. There’s a blanket ban on any event, rally or cultural programme in Ayodhya.
The circular asks people to inform their friends and relatives, as well as group members, about the guidelines and ensure its compliance.
Meanwhile, ahead of the Supreme Court verdict, Muslims in Ayodhya have sought deployment of para-military forces in the holy city. The Muslims have said that deployment of para-military forces would give them a ‘sense of assurance’.
The Uttar Pradesh government had 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.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has also asked his ministers to refrain from commenting on the Ayodhya issue.
Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has also said that there should not be any celebration on sensitive issues. He appealed to both the communities to maintain peace, after the verdict in Ram Janambhoomi case. The RSS, too, cancelled several events in November and has appealed to everyone to maintain peace.
Social media users can attract NSA
Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police O P Singh has said that the state will not hesitate to book offenders on social media platforms under the National Security Act (NSA) if they caused a law and order situation ahead of the Supreme Court verdict on Ayodhya.
“We are absolutely ready. Under no circumstances, will anybody be allowed to take law in their hands. Our Intelligence machinery is geared up. If needed, the National Security Act will be imposed on elements who attempt to disrupt law and order,” the DGP said.
He further said that the social media platforms were being closely monitored by a team of officials and any objectionable or inflammatory post would invite action.
Faizabad police deploys 16,000 volunteers
The Faizabad police have deployed 16,000 volunteers to keep an eye against objectionable content on social media.
A similar number of volunteers have been put in place across 1,600 localities in the district to maintain calm when the order on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute is delivered, Senior Superintendent of Police Ashish Tiwari said.
The SSP said they are ready to deal with terror attacks, communal riots, public resentment, any danger to the disputed site and have also taken care of all loopholes.
They have prepared a four layered security plan. In case one plan fails, it will be taken over by another, the official added.
The police have appointed 16,000 volunteers in 1,600 localities of the district to encourage people to remain calm and the same number of “digital volunteers” will keep a vigil on social media. The administration has also created several WhatsApp groups for volunteers to pass on information, the SSP said.
Four security zones have been created – red, yellow, green and blue. While red and yellow will be manned by Central Para Military Forces (CPMF), green and blue will be manned by civil police, he said.
The red security zone covers the disputed site, the yellow zone covers 5 miles periphery of Ayodhya, the green covers 14 miles periphery of the temple town and the blue zone covers the adjoining districts of Ayodhya.
Seven hundred government schools, 50 UP Board- aided schools and 25 CBSE schools have been taken over to accommodate security forces.
Security tightened in Mumbai
Mumbai Police have stepped up security, specially in sensitive areas, and are keeping a close watch on social media activities ahead of the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case.
Prohibitory orders are already in place and no celebration or mourning with respect to the judgement will be allowed in the city, which witnessed communal riots after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992, the police said.
Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Barve on Monday held a meeting with some prominent members of the Muslim community, including journalists and spiritual leaders, and appealed to them to accept the apex court’s verdict.
“Elaborate security arrangements are being made with extra precautions in sensitive areas. As this will be the verdict of the apex court, every person should accept it as a citizen of the country and not as any community member,” the official said on Tuesday.
As part of the security measures, the police have imposed prohibitory orders from November 4 to 18, restricting any unlawful assembly of people, he said.
“No celebration or mourning by any community or group will be allowed in the city after the judgement,” he said.
The city police’s social media monitoring cell and cyber cell will monitor activities on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram and other such platforms, he said.
“Strict action will be taken against those who post objectionable content, hurting sentiments of any community,” the official said.
Citizens have also been urged not to believe in rumours and alert the police if they come across any such kind of talks, he said.
“People should report any suspicious person or activity and help the police in keeping the city safe and peaceful,” he added.
RSS, BJP reach out to Muslims
Senior RSS and BJP leaders reached out to prominent Muslim clerics and intellectuals and held a meeting with them in New Delhi on Tuesday during which it was stressed that irrespective of the nature of the court ruling there should neither be ‘junooni jashn’ (excessive celeberation) nor ‘haar ka hungama’ (brouhaha over defeat).
The meeting, held at the residence of Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, was attended by RSS leaders Krishna Gopal and Ramlal, former Union minister Shahnawaz Hussain, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind general secretary Mahmood Madani, Shia cleric Kalbe Jawad and filmmaker Muzaffar Ali.
“A historic dialogue was held today in which Muslim intellectuals and clerics participated. At the meeting, it was stressed that all efforts should be made to strengthen the unity and brotherhood in the country under all circumstances,” Naqvi told reporters after the meeting.
“Kahin par bhi jeet ka junooni jashn aur haar ka hahakaari hungama nahin hona chahiye, usse bachna chahiye (Nowhere, the verdict should be excessively celebrated as a victory, nor there should be a brouhaha over the defeat. We should completely avoid this),” he said.
Hussain said it was unanimously agreed at the meeting that the Supreme Court verdict on Ayodhya will be acceptable to all.
“This verdict will strengthen the country. A message of unity has gone out with today’s meeting. This dialogue (between the RSS leaders and Muslims) that has started will not stop and meetings between the Sangh representatives and the Muslim community will continue in future as well,” he added.
The meeting is seen as part of efforts by the RSS and the BJP to reach out to the Muslim community and send out a message of peace and harmony.
Others present during the meeting included All India Muslim Personal Law Board member Kamal Faruqui, former MP Shahid Siddiqui, , former Haj Committee chairman Qaiser Shamim, JNU professor Abdul Nafey and All India Sufi Sajjada Nashin Council chairman Syed Nasiruddin Chishti.
(With inputs from PTI and IANS)