Ayodhya on Sunday saw heightened security keeping in view the separate events organised by the Shiv Sena and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad over the construction of a Ram temple in the city. The Uttar Pradesh Police sealed the city’s borders in the morning. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray offered prayers at Lakshman Kila on Sunday, the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi site in Ayodhya.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, meanwhile, held a Dharam Sabha in the city to press for the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya. Ramji Das of Nirmohi Akhara told the VHP that dates for the construction of the temple will be “announced next year during Kumbh in Prayagraj”.
Here are the day’s updates:
7.15 pm: Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh rejected former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s comments that the Army needs to be deployed in Ayodhya to maintain law and order. “I am sure that the government that of BJP [in the state], unlike other parties, will ensure that law and order is maintained,” Singh tells ANI.
6.45 pm: Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad alleges he will visit the temple town on Monday to urge authorities to ensure law and order prevails. He says Dharma Sabha is aimed to create communal frenzy ahead of the General Elections in 2019, PTI reports.
“What is happening in Ayodhya right now is nothing but another attempt by the BJP and the Sangh Parivar to whip up communal frenzy, instigate violence and then use the bloodshed to polarise voters to benefit the party in the 2019 elections,” Azad alleges.
6.00 pm: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat calls for the construction of Ram temple. “The matter is in the court, the decision should be given early,” he says at the organistation’s Hunkar Sabha in Nagpur. “It has also been proved that the temple was there. The Supreme Court is not giving priority to the case. Justice delayed is justice denied.”
5.50 pm: The All India Muslim Personal Law Board says a situation is being created in Ayodhya against the Muslims. “It is not the matter of giving a mosque but it is a matter of principle that how many mosques will we have to sacrifice gradually,” AIMPLB General Secretary Maulana Wali Rehmani tells PTI. “VHP’s dharm sansad and visit of Thackerey and similar such programmes, a situation is being created against Muslims and its also an open challenge to the judiciary.”
5.08 pm: Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia) chief Shivpal Singh Yadav submits a memorandum to Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik over the VHP’s ‘Dharam Sabha’. Yadav says he urged the governor to ensure law and order is maintained in the city.
4.45 pm: Some Muslim families living in Ayodhya have temporarily left the town, The Times of India reports quoting a resident. There is an “uneasy calm” in Muslim-majority areas like Dharam Kanta, Kaziana and Qatra.
4.40 pm: Congress leader Kapil Sibal refutes Modi’s claim that the party wants the Ayodhya case heard after the 2019 General Elections, ANI reports. He says neither the Congress nor the Bharatiya Janata Party is a party to the case. “I was representing a stakeholder,” Sibal adds.
4.30 pm: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has said that the Ram temple is not a political matter, PTI reports. “Shri Ram is the deity for entire India,” he adds. Fadnavis also expresses hope that Thackeray will get the blessings of Lord Ram.
3.13 pm: VHP leader Champat Rai has declared that no formula for dividing the land will be acceptable for the construction of a Ram temple. “We want the entire land for temple construction,” he says at the Dharam Sabha, in a reference to a 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict which had divided the land.
3.10 pm: VHP workers have arrived in Ayodhya and moved towards Badey Bhaktmaal ki Bagia, the venue of the Dharam Sabha chanting “Jai Shree Ram”, PTI reports. The Hindutva organisation claims it will be largest congregation of Ram devotees in Ayodhya since the 1992 “kar seva”, with over three lakh people attending.
2.30 pm: Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party chief Shivpal Yadav tells ANI that the Supreme Court should decide the Ayodhya matter, or it should be decided by consensus. “The Ram temple could be constructed across the Sarayu river,” he says. “There should be no talks of temple on a disputed land.”
2.17 pm: Uttar Pradesh Additional Director General of Police Anand Kumar says the Intelligence Bureau has provided non-specific inputs of an attack on Ayodhya, ANI reports. “People from intelligence agencies under state government and Centre have been deployed there and are monitoring the situation,” he adds.
The police officer says the Central Armed Police Forces, the Provincial Armed Constabulary and Anti-Terrorism Squad have been deployed in heavy numbers in Ayodhya. “Drone cameras are being used to assess the crowd,” Kumar adds.
2.12 pm: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat will address the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s “Hunkar Rally” in Nagpur on Sunday evening over the Ram temple matter, ANI reports.
2.07 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacks the Congress for its stand on the Ayodhya matter, at a rally in Rajasthan’s Alwar. “When the Ayodhya case was being heard in the Supreme Court, Congress leaders said that it should be heard only after 2019, after the Lok Sabha elections,” he says. “Is it appropriate to drag the judiciary into politics in this way?”
The prime minister claims that when a Supreme Court judge wanted to hear all sides in the Ayodhya dispute, a Congress MP from Rajya Sabha, who is a lawyer, tried to bring an impeachment motion against him.
1.02 pm: Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge attacks the Shiv Sena too, claiming that its chief Uddhav Thackeray could have gone to Ayodhya any time in the last five years. “Everyone is going there due to the elections,” he says according to The Indian Express. “Who has stopped Uddhav Thackeray from going there in the past four-five years? On one hand, they are friends with the BJP and on the other, they want to tell the people that they are interested in constructing the temple and are pressurising the government. The people won’t be fooled.”
12.20 pm: Uttar Pradesh BJP MLA Surendra Singh lashes out at the Shiv Sena. “The people who thrash North Indians and drive them out [of Mumbai], who don’t even have the mentality to serve humanity, how will they serve Lord Ram?” he asks.
11.45 am: A Muslim organisation in Maharashtra has asked the Central Board of Film Certification to withhold the clearance of a film titled Ram Janmabhoomi, claiming intended to create hatred in the society. The film has been written and produced by Shia Waqf Board chairperson Syed Waseem Rizvi, The Indian Express reports.
11.15 am: “Even Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath had promised to build the temple,” Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray says in Ayodhya. “But we are yet to see any progress on the ground. The government must take a call on this matter soon.”