Govt ramps up security ahead of Ayodhya verdict

NEW DELHI: In an unprecedented step ahead of the crucial Ayodhya title dispute judgement, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Friday held a highly confidential meeting with Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary and Director General of Police (DGP), to apparently take stock of the law and order situation.
According to sources, three judges from the five-member Ayodhya bench — Chief Justice Gogoi, Chief Justice-designate S A Bobde and Justice Ashok Bhushan attended the meeting with the Chief Secretary Rajendra Kumar Tiwari and the DGP.
It is learnt the discussion mainly focused on the law and order situation in the state in view of the judgement, which is expected any time next week. “The meeting between the judges and the state officials began at 11.30 am and ended at 1 pm,” said a source familiar with the development.
Sources said the judges asked the state officials if they needed any assistance in the form of an order to strengthen the law and order situation.
The 40-day hearing in the 70-year-old dispute concluded on October 17 and the bench is expected to pronounce the judgement before November 17, the day of retirement of Chief Justice Gogoi.
With barely a week left for the final Ayodhya verdict, the annual Lucknow Mahotsav that is held every year from November 25 to December 5, has been postponed to the third week of January.
The Mahotsav Samiti decided in its meeting held on Thursday that the Mahotsav should be postponed. Though the Samiti did not give any reasons for the postponement, sources said that this had been done in view of the impending Supreme Court verdict on the Ayodhya dispute.
Two years ago too, the Mahotsav, which is a calendar event, had been postponed to January in view of the civic polls held in the state.
The Lucknow Mahotsav is a major attraction for people living in Lucknow and in adjoining districts. Artisans, craftsmen from various parts of Uttar Pradesh as well as other states participate in the Mahotsav where they display and sell their wares. A cultural programme is organised along side where top regional and Bollywood artists perform.
The Uttar Pradesh Police are already using drone cameras to monitor activities in the holy city ahead of the Supreme Court verdict in the Ram Janmabhumi-Babri Masjid title dispute case.
The destruction of the mosque triggered religious riots in which about 2,000 people were killed across the country and led to a series of court battles with various groups staking claim to the site.
The Supreme Court is expected to deliver its decision on who should control the site late next week and thousands of Hindu monks and devotees have been arriving in Ayodhya for the judgement.
At the same time, various government agencies are making their preparations to thwart any violence.
“Each and every security officer is committed to prevent minor skirmishes or large-scale riots after the court delivers its verdict,” said a senior home ministry official in New Delhi,
“State governments have identified several schools to set up temporary jails if the need arises,” said the official, who declined to be identified.
Hindu groups say a temple existed on the site before the mosque was built in 1528 by a Muslim ruler.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP has long campaigned on a promise to support the construction of a Hindu temple on the site of the razed mosque.
Provincial police chief Om Prakash Singh said that precautionary measures were in place and social media platforms were being monitored to track inflammatory posts ahead of the verdict.
“We will not tolerate Hindus or Muslims publicly displaying their reaction to the court verdict,” Singh said.
Meanwhile, an ‘aerostat balloon’ developed by the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur (IIT-K) will be deployed for aerial surveillance in Ayodhya.
The USP of this balloon is that by positioning it at a height of 100 metres, a range of 4 to 6 km can be monitored and the activities happening in that area can also be recorded.
IIT-K’s Assistant Professor Subramaniam said that the balloon’s exclusive feature is that it can rotate in any direction.
— IANS/Reuters