Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case: As SC hearing enters final stage, Ayodhya administration imposes fresh curbs, requests more security forces

  • As the hearing in the Ram Janmabhoomi Babri Masjid land dispute entered the final stages on Monday, fresh curbs under Section 144 were imposed in Ayodhya district

  • The district administration has also demanded increased deployment of security forces to maintain law and order and communal harmony in the district

  • It also denied permission to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a right-wing group, from lighting lamps on the disputed site on Diwali

As the hearing in the Ram Janmabhoomi Babri Masjid land dispute entered the final stages on Monday, curbs under Section 144 were imposed in the Ayodhya district of Uttar Pradesh. The Supreme Court, which has been conducting daily hearings in the politically sensitive case, is set to deliver its judgment in the case by 17 November.

Prohibitory orders banning "unlawful assembly" had already been in force since 31 August. To this were added orders prohibiting the use of drones and unmanned vehicles for filming and shooting in Ayodhya. The sale of crackers without the permission of the district magistrate has also been restricted as has been the use of boats and waterways, reports quoted Ayodhya district magistrate as saying.

Anuj K Jha, the district magistrate of Ayodhya said that the latest set of prohibitory orders have been imposed keeping in mind "safety and security of Ayodhya" and those visiting the city.

The order, which has been sent to all senior officials in the district, states that shops and godowns can stay open, with permission, only in specific areas identified by the district administration.

The administration has also demanded increased deployment of security forces to maintain law and order and communal harmony in the district.

The district administration on Monday also denied permission to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a right-wing group, from lighting lamps on the disputed site on Diwali. VHP spokesperson Sharad Sharma on Saturday said the seers of Ayodhya will go inside the Ram Mandir and light up diyas before the deity and will approach Faizabad Divisional Commissioner Manoj Mishra, who is the authorised person-in-charge of the disputed land by the Supreme Court.

Mishra, however, said that any new type of activities beyond those allowed by the Supreme Court order of 7 January, 1993, will not be permitted. The apex court order prohibits all types of religious activities inside the premises and only permits the chief priest to perform routine prayers, including offering food to the deity.

According to The New Indian Express, the VHP has been stepping up work at the Shree Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas Karyashala in Ayodhya ever since the daily hearings in the case began on 6 August, after the mediation efforts to amicably settle the case hit a deadlock.

“Since the hearing has picked up in the Supreme Court, Ram devotees are also enthused. The workshop is once again alive with activity. The carved stones sheets and pillars, meant for the temple, are being cleaned. Confabulations are on and a decision to speed up stone carving will be taken as per the suggestions of the saints of Ayodhya and other places,” said Sharma.

Meanwhile, as reported earlier in Firstpost, a group of Muslim intellectuals have suggested that they are willing to give up claims over the contested land as a conciliatory gesture aimed at maintaining peace and harmony within the country. On 11 October, the 'Indian Muslims for Peace' called for an out of court settlement in the vexatious dispute. They also suggested the option of gifting the disputed land at Ayodhya to Hindus even if the Muslim side were to win the legal title suit in the top court to safeguard and protect "the interest and safety of other places of worship of Muslims in the country".

According to an NDTV report, the Sunni Waqf Board, one of the litigants in the case had also told the court-appointed three-member mediation panel that they were ready to withdraw their claim on the 2.77 acres of the disputed land.

On 11 October, a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi revised the deadline to wrap up proceeding is the case to 17 October, a day earlier than the previous deadline of 18 October. The bench, also comprising justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer, set 14 October as the deadline for the Muslim sides to the dispute to complete their arguments. It said that thereafter, two days would be granted to the Hindu parties, to sum up their rejoinders by 16 October, and 17 October would be the last day for wrapping up the hearing.

The apex court bench is hearing appeals against 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment partitioning the 2.77 acres disputed land equally amongst three parties: the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla. The bench is likely to deliver its judgment before 17 November, the day the CJI retires, else hearing in the case will have to begin afresh after that.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Oct 14, 2019 18:46:34 IST