Anxious wait for Ram Temple verdict in Ayodhya

Mahant Dharam Das of the Nirwani Akhara with Jamaat Ulama-e-Hind president Molana Suhaib Qasmi at Supreme Court premises, in New Delhi. (PTI Photo)

It was something the residents of Ayodhya had been waiting for years and the pessimists among them had also reconciled that it would never come. 

Now that the judgement has become a certainty they (residents) appeared to be apprehensive and this apprehension stemmed not only from the verdict itself but also the fallout.

The anxiety may not, however, be visible to a casual visitor as its business as usual in the narrow and cramped lanes in this temple town.

People crowding the shops selling 'puja' items as well as goods for daily use, the sound of temple bells and the recital of the couplets of 'Ram Charit Manas' (stories about the life and deeds of Lord Rama, written by Tulsi Das) does not drop even a small hint that the town hogged the limelight, not only in India but also across the world and was the centre of one of the most vexed and bitter religious disputes.

While a large section of the residents, as well as the local Hindu seers and Muslim clerics, were unanimous in saying that the verdict, either way, would not ''affect'' the ''communal harmony'' in Ayodhya, some remained sceptical.  

''Ayodhya is the biggest cultural centre in the world...it houses ancient Hindu temples, mosques, dargahs (shrines of Sufi saints), Jain and Buddhist temples...Sikh guru Nanak Dev too had visited this town...nowhere in the world do we find symbols of so many religions,''  Khaliq Ahmed Khan, a local resident, who has been associated with the Ayodhya case, told DH here.

Khan, however, said that the outsiders might ''vitiate'' the atmosphere in the town. Many Muslims had been killed and their houses burnt after the demolition of the disputed structure on December 6, 1992.

On whether Muslims would accept the verdict without grudge, he said that All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), an apex body of the Muslims in the country, had given an undertaking that it would abide by the verdict.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Sharad Sharma also echoes similar sentiments. ''Lord Rama himself is the epitome of great moral values...we expect the people to follow his example...we should not be looking at the verdict in terms of win or defeat,''  Sharma said.

The common people from both communities, however, appeared to view the verdict differently. ''We want peace...it does not matter, who wins or who loses.....it must ensure peace as only that will make sure that the town develops,'' says Saleem Ahmed, who owns a shop in Babu Bazar area.

Shakir Ali, another local resident, also echoes similar sentiments. ''Peace will bring prosperity....it will boost tourism and that will benefit the Muslims as they own a large number of shops selling puja items,'' he added.

Prominent Hindu seer Mahant Gyan Das also says that Ayodhya has been a symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity. ''The relations between the two communities here is very deep and strong,'' he said.

The Hindus here, by and large, seem to be certain of a positive judgement and pooh-poo the idea that there may also be an adverse verdict. 

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