An undercurrent of tension is palpable in the old city areas in view of the 20th anniversary of Babri Masjid demolition that falls on Thursday (December 6). Residents and traders, especially small vendors, are afraid that trouble may break out on that day.

“There may be violence,” says Mohammed Ghouse, a bag-seller at Charminar. His family has asked him to stay away from the market on that day apprehending that trouble may break out. Even if it means loss of earnings for a day, his wife is firm about it.

“But I have not yet decided about it. If trouble breaks out on Thursday, I won’t be able to work on Friday also,” he adds.

P. Jangiah, a vegetable vendor at Mir Alam Mandi, has already decided to stay away from the market. “In the previous years, we went about our business as usual and none prevented or disturbed us. But the situation now is different and there could be violence,” he fears.

The fear is so much that most of the educational institutions in the old city have decided to remain shut on that day. “It is not like supporting any political party but we do not want to take any chances”, the correspondent of a school at Shahalibanda said.

In 2003, violence was reported coinciding with the first anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition forcing the police to impose curfew for the next few days. However, the last few years have remained peaceful except for small demonstrations and some meetings.

But now the people feel there could be trouble in the area going by the tense atmosphere prevailing there for the last few days. “The atmosphere is charged and there have been umpteen attempts to flare up communal tension right from Bakrid time. We cannot say anything, but pray that nothing happens,” says Mohammed Yousuf, a sweet-maker at Charminar.

However, people like K. Raj Kumar, a retired municipal employee, tried to play it down. “I am sure nothing will happen. There is much awareness and people are not going to play into the hands of any political party or organisation,” he says.

Shaik Nayeem, a private employee, also shares his opinion. “It is now for the police to keep a check on the situation. Imposing unnecessary restrictions can also backfire,” he feels.

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