Heavy police deployment, frequent flag marches lulled this town, which is in the eye of the storm, into silence after the Ayodhya judgment was delivered on Thursday. There were no expressions of emotions or raising of provocative slogans, as police stepped up its vigil by evening. To the credit of mahants and Muslim leaders, at least for the day, they kept their cadres in check. Even otherwise the common citizen in this sleepy township takes pride in the bonhomie between communities.
Faizabad District Magistrate M.P. Agrawal and Senior Suprintendent Police R.K.S Rathore were seen throughout the day personally doing the rounds of Faizabad city and Ayodhya town to monitor the situation. Mr. Rathore told The Hindu that besides the Central Reserve Police Force and the local police, the PAC, the RAF and the District Armed Police were deployed. “Schools, offices and shops are open,” he said.
Indeed the shops were open but till the time of the judgment many had not made a single sale. Anita, who has her shop near the Hanuman Gadhi, was closing shop at 1 pm. ``I am going home to watch television,'' she said. Another shopkeeper said, “at least an average of 40 to 50 bus-loads of people come to Ayodhya every day. But today apprehending trouble nobody had come.”
Moreover, the movement of buses was stopped from 6 am. Most drivers of private taxis refused to drive down to Ayodhya and preferred to lose the day's earnings.
The police presence in Faizabad district was largely unobstrusive. Only at arrival from Lucknow, there was a barricade, where names and mobile numbers of the drivers were being jotted. However, by evening the police had stepped up its search and was stopping every vehicle to search for arms and ammunition. A few bomb disposal sqauds were also pressed into service. Although all leaders including Hashim Ansari of the Babri Masjid Action Committee and Nrityagopal Das of Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas have appealed for peace, police will heave a sigh of relief only after the Friday prayers, a police officer said.
Such was the fear of security personnel that a few members of the Vishwa Hindu Paishad said they were wary of raising slogans or bursting crackers because of police presence. Moreover, the general refrain was not to make a public display of any celebration “as court's decision has to be accepted by all parties.”
Chief priest of the Ram Lalla temple Satyendra Das welcomed the verdict and said it was a “judicious” decision. He was of the opinion that no party should approach the Supreme Court or else ``Ram Lalla will remain in tatters.”