Verdict comes from fortress

Verdict comes from fortress

The domed building of the Allahabad High Court’s Lucknow Bench was indeed fortified by over 1,000 armed personnel of the Uttar Pradesh police as well as state and central paramilitary forces on the day the three-judge bench delivered the verdict in the protracted legal battle over the disputed site in Ayodhya.

Even the lawyers’ entry to the High Court premises was restricted and only those who had carried identity cards issued by the Oudh Bar Association were allowed to enter. The lawyers who had no matters listed for the day were requested by the Registrar of the High Court to stay off the premises.

Justices D V Sharma, S U Khan and Sudhir Agrawal delivered the much-awaited verdict. And the lawyers were not complaining. “We understand the sensitivity involved in the dispute and appreciate the concerns of the authorities over the possible ramifications,” said senior advocate Mohammed Shamim.

A large number of media persons from Delhi and elsewhere across the country joined the ones based in Lucknow to cover the ‘Judgment Day’ live. But none was allowed to enter the High Court premises. All of them gathered at a makeshift media centre set up near the office of the district magistrate.

Officials had earlier announced that the Registrar of the High Court would brief the media after the judges delivered the verdict inside courtroom 21. But the plan was dropped later, ostensibly to ensure that the Registrar does not have to interpret the verdict.
Outside the district magistrate’s office and the nearby high court, Lucknow wore a deserted look much before the verdict reached public domain.

“I could not even make one-fourth of the earnings that I make by afternoon everyday,” said Rakesh, a rickshaw-puller as he waited for passengers at the city’s Gautam Baudh Marg.

“The traders closed their shops as they are scared. People were apprehensive about the consequences of the verdict. That is why, they remained indoors or left for home by afternoon,” said police constable Prahlad Yadav while returning to the police station at Naka Hindola after a patrolling duty.

Unlike Karnataka, the Uttar Pradesh government did not shut schools and colleges, but attendances in academic institutions were thin. “I did send my son to school. But the school authority suspended classes as only a few students turned up,” said Priyanka Saigal, a resident of Gomati Nagar area of Lucknow.

Nearly 190,000 security forces laid a security blanket across UP, although Chief Minister Mayawati expressed her displeasure over the Centre’s reluctance to send more central paramilitary forces. In Lucknow, 20 companies of the central paramilitary forces were deployed to help the police and personnel of the State’s Provincial Armed Constabulary.

In Ayodhya, a total of 20 companies of CRPF personnel were deployed for the security of the disputed site. Besides, 38 companies of police and PAC personnel were deployed for the twin towns of Ayodhya and Faizabad and 16 more for rural areas in the district. The judges too had tight security rings around them with 20 police and paramilitary personnel assigned for each of them.

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