Even as senior police officers tour various parts of Uttar Pradesh to assess the law and order situation ahead of the verdict on the Babri title suit this Friday, their colleagues at the police station-level are doing their bit to ensure that tensions do not rise in the days leading up to it.
At the police station here, a modest canopy shielded gun licence-holders from a harsh post-monsoon sun as the police station office-in-charge took the mike. His stentorian voice struggling to rise above the traffic flowing past on the national highway, the officer listed the dos and don'ts.
The first was for people to refrain from bringing out weapons from their houses. "No one from now on is going to display the weapons on the road or any kind of gathering you might choose to join. Also be wary of friends or relatives who wish to handle your firearm. Under no condition are you going to allow someone else to borrow your weapon."
The officer had more in store for them: become model citizens by quashing any rumours they might hear because, "after all many of you are from the armed forces." And, count ammunition carefully and store it in a safe place. Inform police about taking weapon outside your area. "That way we can come to your aid if you are detained somewhere else. But let me tell you that we have been told not to listen to any sifarish [intercession] if you do not follow any of the points I have told you," the officer rounded off.
The mood among the weapon licence-holders was introspective. "There will be people who will want to create trouble. It is up to us whether we join them or stay away from them," said a bank security guard.
"The zeal of the previous stir is not there. Those who had participated in all this two decades ago are not going to come out this time. Nor are they going to allow their children to join them. Only a very few gained from the Ram Janam Bhoomi movement. The rest like us went back to our lives. The government here too is of a different type," Jitender Singh Kundu of local daily Yug Karvat said.
The office-in-charge had the final word after seeing off the last of the gun licence-holders.
"We know they will not misuse their weapons. But when they are going to go back to their villages, they are going to tell others that we are serious about ensuring no incident takes place. Anyway, it is the media which is the most interested in the verdict. Apart from them no one is really bothered," he said.