Sanjay Raut courts controversy as Ayodhya turns into fortress ahead of 'Super Sunday'

Nov 23, 2018, 19:10 IST | IANS

Raut demanded that the government enact a law for "quick construction of a grand Ram temple" in Ayodhya

Sanjay Raut courts controversy as Ayodhya turns into fortress ahead of 'Super Sunday'
Sanjay Raut

Two days ahead of the massive show of strength by the saffron camp in this temple town with the police turned it into a fortress, Shiv Sena's Rajya Sabha lawmaker Sanjay Raut on Friday created a flutter here by saying when Babri Masjid could be demolished in 17 minutes, why it was taking so long for a law to build a temple there.

"We demolished the Babri Masjid in 17 minutes but for paperwork why it is taking so much time...for drafting a law or ordinance," he told reporters in comments seen as provoking BJP with which its oldest saffron ally is not on good terms in the last few months.

The Shiv Sena leader, camping in the temple town for the last couple of days along with other party leaders and hundreds of Sena supporters who arrived here in two special trains, said: "From Rashtrapati Bhavan to Uttar Pradesh, there is BJP government. In Rajya Sabha, there are a lot of members who support Ram temple."

Raut demanded that the government enact a law for "quick construction of a grand Ram temple" in Ayodhya.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) backed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) are due to hold a 'Dharma Sabha' on Sunday to press for an early construction of a Ram temple.

Several trains, buses, tractor trolleys, taxis have been booked by the organisers to ferry people from across the state to be part of the congregation, which the VHP has announced would be "the last before the war bugle is sounded."

Police sources said there would be over two lakh people converging on Ayodhya on what is now being called the 'Super Sunday'.

The Shiv Sena has already jumped into the fray to whip up passions on the Ram temple. Party chief Uddhav Thackeray is to attend several events in the temple town on Sunday and is likely to pitch in for early construction of the grand Ram temple.

Party MP Sanjay Raut was in the town twice in the past fortnight and had discussions with local seers. Mahant Nritya Gopaldas, a guardian figure in the Ram temple movement, after initial reluctance has agreed to meet the Shiv Sena chief.

There is growing anxiety among locals on what this maiden visit to the Maratha satrap would mean for the Ram temple. Local traders have already threatened to down shutters on Sunday and show black flags to Thackeray to protest attacks on North Indians in Mumbai, fomented by his party.

Sources said that the state BJP government is working the wires with the Shiv Sena top brass to ensure that there is no untoward incident in and around the disputed site.

The Ayodhya case is before the Supreme Court and is scheduled for hearing in January next year.

Government sources said local intelligence units have been "alerted" and extra security deployment has been made ahead of the Shiv Sena chief's visit.

It was then Shiv Sena Chief Bala Saheb Thackeray who had proudly claimed that "brave" Shiv Sainiks razed the Babri mosque on December 6, 1992.

What is worrying the security agencies, insiders say, is the fact that many VHP and even the ruling BJP lawmakers have openly threatened a "repeat of 1992" on Sunday. Beria (Barabanki district) legislator Surendra Singh has publicly said that if things do not move fast towards an early announcement of the Ram temple, "they will not hesitate in taking law in their hands".

The Yogi Adityanath government is treading with caution. On the one hand, the government has said that "Ram bhakts" can gather in Ayodhya and perform rituals, on the other, it has asked the police and the district administration to be extra vigilant.

On Friday the temple town turned into a fortress with the police dividing Ayodhya into eight zones and 16 sectors. State Chief Secretary Pradesh Anoop Chandra Pandey, principal secretary (home) Arvind Kumar and Director General of Police (DGP) O.P. Singh have reviwed the town's security through video-conferencing.

The state government has also increased the number of provincial armed constabulary (PAC) from 20 to 48.

"There is nothing to fear. We are vigilant and the law and order will be maintained," said the DGP on Friday.

Iqbal Ansari, the lone Muslim litigant in the decades-old title suit of the Babri mosque-Ram Janmabhoomi case had recently said they were feeling insecure as the "atmosphere in Ayodhya was akin to 1992".

RSS's Bhaiyya ji Joshi had recently visited Ayodhya and expressed the hope that "his next visit to the temple town would be when the Ram deity sits under a grand temple."

RSS has pumped in its might to make the Sunday event a success and has divided the 200-km area around Ayodhya into 1.000 sections wherein processions, door-to-door campaigns, bike rallies and processions are being held to mobilise the Hindus.

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