Who does the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid land belong to? And was the Masjid built over a temple? It’s been one of India’s most divisive and sensitive disputes, and after a sixty year trial, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court is scheduled to give its verdict on September 24.
That could change today. The same court will consider a petition that asks for the verdict to be deferred on the grounds that it will result in a breakdown of law and order. If the court grants it, the verdict could be delayed by six months and bench will be reconstituted as one current judge will retire in October. (Read: Rethink on Babri judgement?)
The government has been gearing up to prevent the possible law and order problem. Nearly 1.5 lakh policemen will patrol the streets. 4000 paramilitary men will support them. Districts that have been identified as hyper-sensitive will get special protection. The three judges who will deliver the verdict and the High Court will be covered by a thousand policemen.
Yesterday, the government appealed for “the people of India to ensure that the delivery of the judgment is seen as part of the judicial process.”
Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said, “All must maintain equanimity and tranquility in aftermath of the judgment. No section must provoke another section.” (Watch: Govt appeals for calm)
On December 6, 1992, thousands of kar sevaks, led by BJP and RSS leaders, demolished the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, in what they described as their fight to reclaim the birthplace of Lord Ram. Communal riots followed.
The Prime Minister is said to be monitoring the security preparations ahead of this month’s verdict.