The lanes and by lanes of Ayodhya have come alive to the loud chants of “Jai Shree Ram” this bright Sunday morning, with devotees from all walks of life decending here to take part in VHP’s “dharam sabha” to discuss the way forward for the construction of the temple.
The surging crowds from not just neighbouring cities but also from far off places, clad in saffron robes and “safas”, were seen moving in groups to Badey Bhaktmaal ki Bagia , the venue of the dharam sabha.
While bhajans of Lord Ram are being played at different places all along the route, the involvement of some Muslims led by member of Ayodhya Zila Panchayat , Babloo Khan who has been linked to the movement since the past three years, emphasises the composite culture of the town. Khan is of the view that Ayodhya’s Muslim want temple.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s ‘Dharma Sabha’ is being touted as the largest congregation of ‘Ram bhakts’ in Ayodhya since the 1992 ‘kar seva’, with the Hindu outfit claiming a large number of people will attend it.
The congregation is happening less than two weeks ahead of the 26th anniversary of the demolition of the 16th century Babri Mosque, that had triggered unrest in this pilgirm town and riots in other parts of India.
The spectre of 1992 still haunts many people of both the communities who had directly or indirectly suffered in the violence that had erupted after the Mughal-era mosque was razed by a frenzied army of ‘kar sewaks’ (right-wing activists) on the fateful day of December 6.
The VHP has claimed that three lakh people, including seers, will attend its ‘Dharma Sabha’ to be held at Bade Bhakt Mal Ki Baghia, not far from the controversial Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas-run workshop, where work for building a temple has been underway since 1990.
An uneasy calm prevailed in Muslim-dominated areas like Dharam Kanta, and the mega event has triggered some apprehension over the safety of the town’s Muslim community.
Flower petals were being showered on the Ram devotees moving towards the sabha venue.
If the devotees are shouting slogans like “har ghar bhagwa chaayega, Ram rajya phir ayaegaa” or “tel lagao Dabur kaa, naam mitao Babar ka”, the excited youngsters in the crowd cannot resist the desire for clicking selfies to capture the excitement and enthusiasm in the air, much to the surprise of elders in the crowd.
Amidst the surcharged atmosphere , the biggest challenge is being faced by the agencies enforcing law and order who have been on the toes all through, maintaining round the clock vigil.
The state government has entrusted the responsibility of the town to the officials who are well versed with not just the geographical details but also the mood of the temple town.
Fool proof security arrangements are in force with the town being virtually converted into a fortress and multiple layers of security and deployment of drones keeping an eye on possible mischief- mongers.
A UP Police spokesperson said one additional DGP, one deputy inspector general (DIG), three senior superintendents of police (SSPs), 10 additional SPs, 21 deputy SPs, 160 inspectors, 700 constables, 42 companies of PAC, five companies of RAF, ATS commandos and drones have been deployed here.
When contacted, Ayodhya mayor Rishikesh Upadhyay said that adequate security arrangements were made by the police and district administration in the town, located 120 km from state capital, Lucknow.
“As many as 13 parking slots have been provided for the event.
Security was also beefed up at Lakshman Qila on Saturday where Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray was welcomed after his arrival in Ayodhya.
The Sena claimed to have brought several thousand supporters to Ayodhya for Thackeray’s events.
Arriving here ahead of Sunday’s VHP rally for a Ram temple, Thackeray asked the Narendra Modi government to wake up from a “Kumbhakarna-like slumber” and declare the date for its construction.
“There is no political motive behind my visit to Ayodhya,” he claimed.
Meanwhile, VHP media in-charge Ambuj Ojha said, “After staying in a ‘taat’ (tent), Lord Ram is expecting a revival of bravado among his devotees. The moment has come. The temple must be built where Ram Lalla is currently seated. Also, there should not be any mosque in the cultural boundary of Ayodhya.”
On November 18, the VHP had organised a motorcycle rally in different parts of Lucknow in this regard.
Praant Sangathan mantra (Awadh) of VHP Bholendra, in a written statement, said this was the final Dharam Sabha for construction of Ram temple.
“After this, no more Dharam Sabhas will be held and the construction of the temple will commence,” he added.