Panic buying after rumours of curfew
The Uttar Pradesh Government is yet to decide on whether to relax security arrangements or continue with them, though the Allahabad High Court verdict on the Babri Masjid title suits will not be pronounced on Friday.
The verdict was to be delivered by the Lucknow Bench and keeping that in view unprecedented security arrangements and pre-emptive measures, in fact one of the biggest security exercises ever, had been made by the Mayawati government.
ADG (Law and Order) Brij Lal avoided a direct reply to a query whether the strict measures would continue. “We will see,” he told journalists here, adding the unprecedented security measures were taken in view of the (anticipated) Ayodhya judgment, the panchayat elections in October and major festivals.
So stern were the steps taken to prevent any law and order problem that the Opposition accused Chief Minister Mayawati of creating a fear psychosis among the people. Apart from enforcing prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code in the entire State, public meetings and bursting of crackers were banned by a September 20 order. Ms. Mayawati herself made it clear at a law and order review meeting that anti-social and mischievous elements who tried to inflame communal passions would be dealt with sternly.
Heavy deployment of Central and State police had been made in all sensitive towns and cities, the maximum being at Ayodhya and Faizabad. The security forces included 64 companies of the Central paramilitary forces.
Despite the massive security build-up and administrative measures, some private schools in the district, apprehending trouble, declared an “unofficial” holiday for September 24 and 25.
In fact, rumours were doing the rounds in Lucknow and several other cities of the “possibility of curfew being imposed in the sensitive areas.” This manifested in panic buying of provisions by the common man.