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On December 6, Ayodhya under air and water surveillance

By Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow
December 06, 2008 15:11 IST
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Turned into a virtually impregnable fortress on the 16th anniversary of the demolition of the 16th century Babri Mosque,  Ayodhya is currently under a heavy cover both against air strike as well from water through the neighbouring Saryu river.

While the air cover is a stand-by arrangement , the water cover is visible on the waters of the Saryu river that flows quietly along this ancient Hindu temple town .

"We have deployed a dozen motor boats with more than 100 armed men to patrol the river round-the clock around Ayodhya and its twin town Faizabad as a part of our stepped up vigil in the wake of the recent terror attacks in Mumbai", district police chief R.K.S.Rathore told

Earlier in the morning , about 15 Hindu activists belonging to the Bajrang Dal, were arrested by the police in Ayodhya's twin city, Faizabad,  where they were staging a protest demonstration in pursuance of their demand for construction of a grand temple at the site of the razed mosque.

Meanwhile, Muslim activists of the Babrl Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) , decided to forsake  their traditional 'black flag' protest  this time, against the demolition. "We are not making any public protest this time in view of the large-scale carnage by terrorists in Mumbai", said Yunus Siddiqui, local BMAC  leader

It was several centuries old dispute over Ram's birthplace that snowballed into a Hindu frenzy that took its toll in the demolition of the mosque , allegedly built on the debris of a temple built in the 12th century to mark Lord Ram's birth.

According to Rathore, "As many as about 2000 armed policemen were in place to guard the contentious shrine."

He said, "As many as about 700 additional  armed policemen have been pressed into service since yesterday to maintain the strict vigil in and around the 'Ramjanmbhoomi' complex , which usually remains under round-the-clock surveillance of nearly 1200 armed policemen."

An estimated Rs. 864 crores has been spent on the three-tier security ring around the makeshift temple complex since December 6, 1992 when the mosque was razed.

Even as there was no official restriction on "darshan"  at the makeshift temple that draws thousands of devotees every day, the intensified security at all entry points to the temple town has clearly brought down the number of devotees Saturday.

"Well, we are not stopping people from visiting Ayodhya , but sure enough they are being subjected to heavy checking and frisking which is unavoidable", said SSP Rathore .

"However intensified security  may not be entirely be the reason for lower turnout at the Ramjanmbhoomi  today ; people usually avoid visiting the place on December 6", he  said.
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Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow