The Supreme Court verdict on the Babri Masjid-Ramjanmabhoomi land dispute has left the people of Ayodhya divided on predictable lines. The Hindu populace celebrated the order but it triggered a sense of dejection among the Muslim community of Faizabad-Ayodhya.
The contrasting moods could be gauged as one walked through the different localities of the heavily guarded district on Saturday.
The Hindu population of the town and district welcomed the judgment as vindication of their religious beliefs and expressed the hope that the construction of a Ram temple would augur a new wave of development. The minority community, while honouring the court decision, felt it had failed to deliver justice to them.
A home for Ram Lalla
In the vicinity of the disputed site, several members of the Hindu community rejoiced in the streets, chanting “Jai Shri Ram!” and distributed sweets. Ramji Nigam, who has a shoe shop near the Hanuman Garhi temple, burst into cheers as soon as the verdict flashed on his TV screen. “All of Ayodhya’s troubles will now disappear,” he said. “Justice has happened.”
Prakash Gaud,who sells puja items near the makeshift Ram temple, said, a Ram Mandir would provide a big boost to business. “More people will now start coming to Ayodhya. I feel personally happy too. Now Ram Lalla will move from a tent to his rightful palace,” he said.
As most of the areas in the vicinity of the disputed site were barricaded and vehicle entry barred, the civilian presence was noticeably thin. However, darshan (paying obeisance) went on as usual at the main temples with devotees trickling in through the day.
Several Hindus, while expressing satisfaction at the verdict, also felt it was a sensible to award an alternate land to the Muslim side.
Across town, the Purani Sabzi Mandi, a densely-populated locality in the heart of Faizabad wore a deserted look with Muslims preferring to keep their shops and stores shut as a precaution. The feast to be organised on the occasion of Barawafat (the birthday of Prophet Mohammad) on Sunday was cancelled as a gesture of mourning.
Mohammad Ahmed, a clothes trader, was one of the few persons walking around the empty and silent lanes.
While expressing disappointment at the verdict, he, however, said it came with the bargain of peace. “If the decision was other way round, there would have been a lot of bloodshed,” he reasoned.
Mohammad Shariq, who owns a lock shop in Raqabganj, said the verdict was based on “faith” rather than a title suit but accepted it as a reality of being a member of a ‘minority’.
“The moment I heard on the television that five acres would be given to Muslims for a mosque, I shut the news. Tears rolled down my face,” Mr. Shariq said.
Like many Muslims The Hindu spoke to, Mr. Shariq also said the court case about the land where the Babri Masjid stood till December 6, 1992, was a matter of “justice” and not religion for them. They argued that if the apex court had divided the disputed land equally between the two main sides, that would have been more acceptable to them.