The Supreme Court will deliver its highly-anticipated verdict on the decades-old dispute over the 2.77 acres of land in Ayodhya on Saturday as authorities enhanced security across the country, especially in the temple town in Uttar Pradesh.
The five-judge bench of the Supreme Court heard a batch of petitions challenging the judgment of Allahabad High Court on September 30, 2010, trifurcating the disputed land in Ayodhya into three equal parts among Ram Lalla, Central Sunni Waqf Board, and Nirmohi Akhara.
These three parties, however, moved the top court challenging the high court verdict and sought the modification of its judgment.
WATCH | Countdown to Ayodhya verdict: 7 preventive measures taken by government
The bench completed the daily hearings in the matter on October 16 and reserved its verdict that has been among India’s most sensitive and divisive political issues, which will now be delivered before Gogoi retires on November 17.
Hindus believe the 16th-century mosque, Babri Masjid, was built over a temple dedicated to Hindu god Ram, whose birthplace is also considered to be at the site.
The mosque was demolished by a mob of thousands in 1992, triggering a cycle of violence and riots across India.
Various religious organisations and political leaders cutting across party lines have appealed for peace and asked both communities to honour the verdict, irrespective of the way the top court rules.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath have also ordered party leaders not to issue provocative statements.
Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi met top officials of the Uttar Pradesh government on Friday ahead of the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute case.
Security stepped up
Several states across the country have increased security before the Supreme Court rules on the disputed site and thousands of paramilitary force members and police have been deployed in Ayodhya.
Thousands of Hindu monks and devotees have been arriving in Ayodhya for the judgment.
Police are conducting mock drills, flag marches and drone surveillance in town to prepare for any possible fallout of the judgment.
The district magistrate Court had already imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) in Ayodhya in October. Ayodhya’s district magistrate Anuj Kumar Jha had said in an order that Section 144 will be in effect till December 10.
Adityanath has also asked officers to station helicopters in Ayodhya and Lucknow for patrolling and transportation of security personnel. An aircraft will be stationed in Lucknow, he said.
A senior state police official said initially 52 companies of armed police, including 37 PAC and 15 central paramilitary companies, were deployed. Another 40 companies of central paramilitary forces were added later.
Extra deployment of civil police, including 11 additional SPs, 20 deputy SPs, 150 inspectors, 250 sub-inspectors, and 1200 constables, had been done in Ayodhya, the official said adding around 1,500 home guard personnel too were moved to Ayodhya.
“We have deployed forces as per the requirement. Our officers are holding meetings with locals, leaders to maintain peace. Drone cameras were successfully tested to keep a watch on every activity in the region,” additional director general (ADG) of police Ashutosh Pandey, who is in charge of security arrangements in Ayodhya, said.
More than 200 schools near Ayodhya have been chosen to accommodate the forces and for setting up temporary jails, if such a need arose, said a district administration official.
Another police official in Ayodhya said central paramilitary forces will be deployed in red and yellow zones around the disputed site.
He said the red security zone comprised the disputed site, the yellow zone the five-mile (panch koshi) periphery of Ayodhya and the green zone covered the 14-mile (14 Koshi) periphery of the town. The blue zone comprised the adjoining districts of Ayodhya, he said adding this was an old system used to maintain law and order there.
The police were also using its network of 16000 social media volunteers’ in Ayodhya district to keep an eye on activities which could spur trouble, said inspector general of police (law and order), Praveen Kumar.
Saumitra Yadav, superintendent of police of the Government Railway Police (GRP) in Lucknow, said in addition to the existing strength of policemen at stations, 10 sub-inspectors (SI), more than 50 constables and circle office (CO) have been deployed at the Ayodhya junction.
“Besides, we have also established our quick response team (QRT) to meet any exigency ahead of the verdict,” said Yadav.
Yadav said the GRP had chalked out an elaborate plan for Ayodhya junction as well as Faizabad railway station as they were the most sensitive stations.
He said the GRP security plan included round-the-clock checking of unattended vehicles at the parking lots at these stations, frequent checking drives at the stations, trains and in the circulating areas.
“We are also checking the trains stationed at the yard and washing lines and are sensitising the local vendors, coolies and railway staff to immediately report anything lying unattended,” said Arun Kumar Singh, CO GRP Lucknow, who is camping at the Ayodhya junction.
In addition, GRP has also shortlisted some sensitive trains, including Mankapur-Ayodhya passenger train, Varanasi-Lucknow passenger, Gorakhpur-Ayodhya passenger, Lucknow-Varanasi passenger train and other short-distance trains which it said were more sensitive as compared to the other long-distance trains.
“We are carrying out checking drives in all the passenger trains. Also, we would be deploying our escorts on the trains,” said Singh.