Ayodhya’s D-Day: Hindus Rejoice Mandir, Muslims Feel ‘Betrayed’
How was the mood in Ayodhya on the day of the verdict? The Quint speaks to people on the ground.
“Ab toh khulke Jai Shri Ram bol hi sakte hai. Ab kaunsa darr hai?”
(Now, we can chant Jai Shri Ram openly, what’s the fear now?)
Three middle-aged women just managed to cross over the bamboo barriers put in place outside Ayodhya’s Ram Janmabhoomi Karshala. They were rushing to congratulate those working in the workshop set up by Vishva Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal in 1993.
The Supreme Court had just announced the verdict for the long-drawn Mandir-Masjid battle. The Hindus were given the disputed land to build a Ram temple and Muslims were allotted an alternate land in a “prominent” place in the historic town of Uttar Pradesh.
Although many in the media and on social media claimed it was “a balanced verdict and both sides have been equally served,” the city of Ayodhya saw just Hindus celebrating it.
One could only see Hindu saints, women with plates adorning things required for pujas and young boys clad in saffron roaming the streets of Ayodhya and rejoicing.
“It is clear now. The Mandir will be constructed at the designated site. The real Diwali for Ayodhya is today.”Pushkar, Local resident
Pushkar, a local, was bursting crackers with his younger brother on the main road near Hanuman Garhi that leads to the disputed land when he was asked by the police personnel, deployed to maintain law and order in the town, to not engage in “julus” (public display of happiness) over the verdict.
He obeyed and went back to checking the news on his phone.
Standing in his shop, which sold statues of gods and goddesses, a man shouted, expressing his happiness to a shopkeeper across the road, “There won’t be any more barriers in the way of Ram Mandir.”
Celebrations continued till evening with several families lighting diyas at the Ram ki Paidi ghat.
Ramji Pandey, a BSc student from Ayodhya, told The Quint, “I have heard from my father that my grandfather was killed in the violence during the 90s. I don’t remember in which incident he lost his life but this day is landmark for my family.”
Pandey added that Ayodhya’s economy will boom once the temple is constructed. “People who used to be scared to come to Ayodhya will now flock here.”
‘Feel Betrayed But At Least We Don’t Have to Live in Fear’: Ayodhya’s Muslims
The modest celebrations gradually turned extravagant. Firecrackers, sky lanterns, louder chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ took over Ayodhya’s main market, which is densely populated by Hindus.
However, just a few kilometres away near Teri Bazar, the mood was quite sombre. While some of the Muslims refused to comment on the verdict, others seemed to have accepted it with ‘a sense of dejection.’
Aasif, 29, told The Quint, “We have seen the horrors of 1992 demolition and its aftermath. None of us want a repeat of it. It is best to move on from here.”
“We have always been saying we will accept the Supreme Court’s verdict and we will have to now. But at least we don’t have to constantly live in fear since the matter is settled once and for all.”Aasif, Local resident
Aasif is the cousin of Iqbal Ansari, one of the litigants in the Babri Masjid case. Ansari, too, said he will not challenge the verdict.
Another Muslim, Aijaz Ali, said he felt “betrayed by the verdict but it has definitely given a closure to both Hindus and Muslims in the city.”
“The court had held that placing the idols in the Masjid site was illegal. If that was the case and if the court had dismissed the Nirmohi Akhara’s plea, why could it not have divided the same land into two? Then it would have sent a very different message to the people of this country.”Aijaz Ali, Local resident
“The verdict has ensured that there is no other such day in Ayodhya when the curfew has to be imposed. When people from outside this town stop visiting, local businesses suffer a lot,” added Ali.
Most people The Quint spoke to from both the communities said they believed that now at least there will be economic prosperity in Ayodhya since Prime Minster Narendra Modi and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath “would invest heavily in the temple.”
However, it is left to be seen if this verdict has indeed drawn the curtain on India’s Mandir-Masjid debate.
“Ayodhya toh sirf jhaanki hai, Kashi, Mathura abhi baaki hai,” an aged man at the Ram ki Paidi ghat shouted to an acquaintance across the road as more diyas were lit at the banks of the Saryu river in Ayodhya.
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