Muslims in Ayodhya cite past violence, request strict security

Muslim residents say they do not fear their Hindu neighbours, but the lakhs of devotees expected to descend on the town for the Ram temple consecration ceremony from across the country

January 20, 2024 08:31 pm | Updated January 21, 2024 12:17 am IST - AYODHYA

Muslim devotees return after Friday prayers in Ayodhya. Photo used for representation purpose only.

Muslim devotees return after Friday prayers in Ayodhya. Photo used for representation purpose only. | Photo Credit: AFP

Abdul Waheed Quraishi, 43, has a ringside view of preparations for the consecration ceremony at the Ram temple taking place just a few hundred metres away from his house, and his anxiety is growing as the countdown to January 22 gets closer.

“We really don’t know what the outsiders are thinking or planning. Administration assured us that no untoward incident will happen, but among lakhs of people, some elements definitely have different motives. Our family has seen 1990 and 1992 communal incidents in Ayodhya,” said Mr. Quraishi, who lives in the Durahi kuan locality under Ram Janma Bhoomi police station in Ayodhya.

Also read: A timeline of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, from 1858 to 2024

Mr. Quraishi is among the hundreds of Muslims living in Ayodhya town who are worried despite the Uttar Pradesh government’s repeated assurance that it will maintain peace and security in the area on the date of the consecration ceremony and afterwards, amid a likely influx of devotees.

A local Muslim organisation submitted a petition to local authorities demanding strict security and vigil in localities with sizeable Muslim populations as well as other parts of Ayodhya which witnessed communal violence after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992.

Petition to IGP

“In Ayodhya town, Hindus and Muslims have lived in peace, but in the past, due to mobs of outsiders at various events, the Muslim community has suffered loss of life, property and religious places. From January 22, after inauguration of the Ram Temple, it is estimated that a large crowd of outsiders are slated to visit, hence Muslims residing in Ayodhya town are fearful of life, property and religious places. In view of previous experiences, we request for strict vigil and security in localities like Terhi Bazar, beside Teen wali Masjid, Gol Chauraha Sayyadbara, Begumpura, Durahi Kuan, Mughalpura, among others,” reads a January 16 letter by the Anjuman Mohafiz Masjid- Wa- Maqabir, an organisation of local Muslims, addressed to the Inspector General of police, Ayodhya division.

There are roughly 5,000 Muslims in a four kilometre radius around the temple. In Ayodhya district, 14.8% of the nearly 25 lakh inhabitants are Muslims.

“Some Muslims have sent their children and women family members to relatives’ homes in Lucknow, Barabanki or other nearby districts. We tried to convince them as administration guaranteed security, but the fear of 1990 and 1992 communal incidents is difficult to forget for many people,” said Mohammad Azam Qadri, president of the Sunni Central Waqf Board sub-committee in Ayodhya.

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