The people in Ayodhya and adjoining Faizabad strongly favour an early end to the impasse and the surcharged atmosphere that has been offset ever since the possibility of a verdict on the dispute from the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court brightened. “Even after 1990s things were peaceful here. But tension has gripped this time. Not that something would happen here, but whatever happens even in Mumbai or Bhagalpur, it leaves an impact for the people here and more so for the Muslims,” says Haji Mohammad Asif Ansari, who has been a plaintiff to the decades old communally vulnerable legal case.
It is this realization about the “futility of confrontation” that has made Ansari, 90 and a former detenue under MISA during emergency, today swear by the compromise formula. “Agar masjid chhor dene se aman hoti hae …. Toh chhor do, humey nahi chahihye, (If my giving up the Masjid, there is harmony, let us give it up,” he retorted.
It is in this context, he says, “Khushi ho ya gam, Band kamre mein raho. Musalman sarko pe ani nahi chahihiye, (Whether it is victory or loss in the case, Muslims should confined within closed rooms and not take to the streets either to protest or rejoice)”.
He also announced that whatever the judgement, he would accept it. “The dispute should end for once and all. We want the Masjid but peace is also equally important,” he said on September 24 the day within hours the news spread like wildfire in this temple city that the delivery of the Allahabad High Court ruling had
He said he would also not favour moving the Supreme Court on behalf of the Sunni Waqf Board as the confrontation would serve no purpose.
“Yeh dalalo ko mauka dena hae (This will only give opportunities to middlemen to exploit the situation),” he said.
“The delay would not affect the strength of the case either way. Whatever evidence was to be submitted has been submitted and court has already applied its mind. This delay has been worked out by those political forces like Congress and Mulayam Singh and their ‘agents’,” he said.
His views are rather strongly shared by the local VHP unit president Brij Mohan Das, who says, “the priests and the general citizens here are suffering for days due to the tension. Pilgrims have stopped coming and further delay has only intensified things”.
He said the case is pending before the Allahabad High court for years and till now there has been no scope of mutual settlement. “I fail to understand what makes people at this juncture feel that out of court settlement was possible,” he said.
It is the economic factor that is driving even Muslim youths. Rais Ahmed, 25-year-old LIC agent, said “when pilgrims don’t come here it is not only Hindu priests and their families who suffer. Even Muslims suffer. My cousins run tempo (auto rickshaws) and poorer Muslim youths survive on catering to the tourists with their horse carts. Now for months, there is hardly anything called income for them”.
The story of Ayodhya and its citizenry in the circa 2010 – about 60 years since the dispute over a place of worship – truly illustrates the combination of triumph and tragedy.
There have been staggering achievement in ensuring harmony and peaceful co-existence; yet there is equally confounding shortcoming. Other than to merely depend on religious sanctity of the place, more as a birthplace of Lord Rama, no other economic exercise and job avenue has emerged here over the decades.
“There is no factory or industry here. The entire economy is based on pilgrims’ visit, their contribution and donations,” points out local VHP unit president Brij Mohan Das, also the head priest at the prestigious Dasarth Gaddi.
Delay could aggravate the situation:
Local VHP unit feels the delay could only aggravate the situation as the Hindus would only feel frustrated. “There is a strong chance to believe that the status quo suits Muslims and so called secular parties. We only feel bad about it. So if anything happens who is to blame,” says Mahant Brij Mohan Das.
VHP leaders and several Hindu priests here believe that the judgement would be in favour of the Hindus. “All crucial evidence pertaining to the Ram janmabhoomi since the emperor Vikramaditya has been submitted before the court. Things are convincing that there was a temple over which mosque was built. It’s a historical fact,” says the Mahant.