Major mood shift from November to November
Ayodhya residents, who were on the edge during last year's Dharam Sabha organised by VHP, happy that peace will finally prevail
For the fearful residents of Ayodhya, the fourth weekend of last November brought a déjà vu moment. The sensitive town hosted Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, 5,000 Sainiks, and over a lakh Hindu activists who attended the Dharam Sabha organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and other Hindutva outfits, demanding the construction of the Ram Temple at the earliest. The tension was palpable. Ram Lalla's make-shift mandir was thronged by devotees coming from all corners of the country. Barricades fell, appointed routes were violated and the police couldn't do much as the crowds swelled.
But on Saturday, the twin towns of Faizabad and Ayodhya were tense but peaceful, said locals. "The situation is normal. We wanted a resolution because we have already suffered a lot. We are all cooperating with the forces," said Jitender Pratap Singh, a taxi driver.
A local businessman Iqbal Ansari, said, "Yeh to badhiya hua hai. The verdict is for peace and I believe we will have the masjid and mandir built very soon. This will be very good for us because we wanted this dispute to end."
Twenty days before last November's jamboree, RSS general secretary Suresh alias Bhaiyyaji Joshi had said the RSS will not hesitate to launch a 1992-like mass agitation, if needed, because it couldn't wait indefinitely to get the Ram temple built at Ayodhya's disputed site. The Supreme Court had insulted the Hindu sentiments by postponing the hearing in the case, he had said.
Thackeray said after visiting the disputed site that he felt like entering a jail. "I felt sadness from within and thought that Ram continues to be in vanvas [exile]," he said.
Dr. Pradeep Khare
Thackeray said Hindus will not get beaten up this time, because they have become even stronger in the past decade. "The temple is a global wish. There is a Parliamentary session before the elections. Can they not make a law?" he said.
Dr. Pradeep Khare, former principal of Saket PG College, said outsiders were responsible for disturbing peace. "There has been no violence in Ayodhya after 1992. And that took place because of the outsiders who had stormed the towns. We wanted this dispute to end because peace will expedite development."
Santosh Singh, another local, said the town had stopped believing rumours long ago. "We were scared when the date was declared but the fear was replaced by trust as we decided to help each other in keeping communal harmony. I went out fearlessly, interacted with friends and returned home," he said.
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Ayodhya Verdict: Temple at disputed site, alternative plot for mosque