Ayodhya: The 27th anniversary on Friday of the Babri Masjid's demolition here is likely to be a low key affair with both Hindu and Muslim religious leaders downplaying the occasion and tight security measures being in place, less than a month after the Supreme Court's contentious verdict in the land dispute case.
In the early hours of the day, life went on as normal in different parts of the city with school children and morning walkers taking to the streets and shops and businesses opening at their usual time.
While right-wing Hindu organisations in the past 'celebrated' the day when a mob had pulled down the mosque on the disputed site in 1992, this year the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has decided against observing 'Shaurya Diwas'.
Senior priest of Hanumangarhi temple Raju Das told PTI that the day should now be marked as the 'Day of Amity'.
"The temple is witnessing regular flow of devotees. It is a normal day for us and the city. We are observing this day as 'sauhaard diwas' (day of amity). In the evening, earthen lamps will be lit in Hanumangarhi," he said.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has said that while the anniversary of the historic mosque's demolition by a mob is a day of mourning for Muslims, it is "up to individuals" if they want to observe the 'yaum-e-gham' or the 'Day of Sorrow'.
At the Jama Masjid Malik Shah here, children were seen reading the Quran under the guidance of Haji Ismail Ansari, even as a poster with a picture of Babri Masjid hung on a wall.
Mohammed Shahzad Raeen, a poultry dealer associated with the mosque, said there was no problem among the Hindu and Muslim residents of Ayodhya who have been peacefully co-existing for generations.
At primary school in Ranopalli area, classes were going on in a regular manner.
"In all there are 74 students in the school. Yesterday 52 students had turned up, while today around 30 are present," Lal Bahadur Yadav, a teacher, said.
When asked if the dip in students' attendance is due to the Babri Masjid's demolition anniversary, he said, "Possibly yes, as anxiety is present in some parents over December 6."
In Rikabganj area, devotional songs were playing at various temples that were visited by devotees as usual. Milk shops, eateries and other businesses in the city were operational.
"It is a normal day for us," said 60-year-old Brajesh Kumar, a resident. "Yes, it is December 6, but it is just another Friday for us." Police personnel were present at their designated places to keep an eye on the public and ongoing activities to prevent any law and order situation.
The security arrangement in the city is similar to that put in place ahead of the Supreme Court's November 9 verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute, a senior police officer said.
The officer also said that religious organisations have assured the administration that the anniversary will be a low-key affair.
"The security plan for December 6 will be a continuation of the plan we had devised for November 9," Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) PV Ramasastry said, adding that the precautions taken by them were the same as they had adopted on the judgment day.
Ayodhya SSP Ashish Tiwari said the entire district had been divided into four zones, 10 sectors and 14 sub-sectors from a security perspective.
"As many as 78 sand bag posts have been established with armed policemen posted there. Barriers have been put in place to control traffic. As many as 269 police pickets have been set up in sensitive areas," Tiwari had told PTI.
The SSP said that 305 'troublemakers' had been identified and action was being initiated against them. Apart from this, nine quick response teams have been deployed.
To combat any emergency situation, five arresting parties have been formed in addition to 10 temporary jails," he said, adding that anti-sabotage teams were checking hotels, dharamshalas and other public places.
He said people have been asked to immediately inform police about any suspicious activity or people. The public has also been asked not to fall prey to any rumour mongering and maintain harmony, he said.
"Stress has been laid on confidence-building measures," the SSP said, adding that they have contacted saints, traders and academics in this regards.