Though November 9 dawned in the twin cities of Ayodhya and Faizabad with an uneasy calm laced with nervousness ahead of the Supreme Court verdict on the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, the people here firmly sent across the message of communal harmony after the judgment was delivered.
While the decision gave rise to jubilation among Hindu religious leaders, Muslim leaders accepted it with grace.
Be it Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, chief of Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas, Mahant Satyendra Das, the head priest of the makeshift temple, Mahant Pramahans Das of Tapasvi Chhavni, Mahant Raju Das or Birj Mohan Das, all welcomed the court’s order in unison.
Maulana Shahabuddin, the spokesman of the Ala Hazrat Dargah of the Sunnis in Bareilly, Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangimahali, member AIMPLB, and Iqbal Ansari, son and representative of main litigant late Hashim Ansari, said they would accept the decision of the apex court. However, another plaintiff Haji Mehboob expressed dissatisfaction over the verdict, especially the provision of allocating five acres of alternative land to Muslims in Ayodhya for the construction of a mosque.
“It is one of the most auspicious days in the history of India. Let’s celebrate Diwali yet again,” said Mahant Nritya Gopal Das while trying to hold back tears of joy. He, however, condemned those who were raising questions over the SC verdict, calling it a publicity stunt.
"It is a very balanced verdict. It is acceptable to all the parties concerned and hopefully all will abide by it," said Mahant Satyendra Das, chief priest of the makeshift temple. He also appealed to all sections of society to maintain peace and accept the SC order with an open heart. Regarding the land that would be allotted to Muslims, the mahant said the trust, as directed by the SC, would take a favourable decision over it after consulting Muslims.
Welcoming the verdict, VHP regional spokesman Sharad Sharma expressed confidence that the dream of building the temple which was only a hope till yesterday would now be able to take shape. “It is a victory for all of us – Hindus and Muslims both,” he said.
"We have completed about 65% of work on the stones which will be used to build the temple. I think now things will be planned and streamlined towards building a grand temple at the site soon," said Sharma.
Maulana Shahabuddin of Bareilly’s Ala Hazrat Dargah called it a historic decision and a welcome settlement of the vexed issue which had been pending for ages. "We had promised to accept the SC order and we will fulfil our promise. This order has not spelt defeat for any side. It has satisfied both," said the Maulana.
Meanwhile, Iqbal Ansari, son of the main litigant late Hashim Ansari, made it clear that he would abide by the court's verdict. "It is the responsibility of the government to decide the piece of land to be allocated to Muslims. I feel that this issue has ended once and for all today and I want to appeal to Muslims of India and across the world to accept it positively for the sake of the country and communal harmony. No one should do anything to create a wedge between Hindus and Muslims," said Ansari.
Similarly, Mohammad Ismail Ansari of India Muslim League used cautiously chosen words to say that no one should comment on the Supreme Court verdict as it had come in favour of the country and not one community. "There is no scope for anybody to comment on the order given by the Supreme Court. It should be accepted in letter and spirit. Religion and faith are there but nothing is superior to the nation," he said.
Earlier, the historic Saturday morning was as quiet as the silent flow of the River Sarayu in the temple town and its twin city Faizabad. The mood was sombre and the twin cities were enveloped in an unprecedented security blanket. Even the devotees present in the town for back to back Chaudah Kosi and Panch Kosi yatras under the Kartik Mela had left on Friday evening owing to the district administration’s advisory.
However, those who were still present in Ayodhya joined the celebrations at Vallabaha Kunj temple after the verdict. A young Muslim leader Babloo Khan and Mahant Brij Mohan Das offered sweets to each other to share the joy. Hanuman Garhi too witnessed similar scenes.
The streets of Ayodhya still wore a deserted look and people chose to remain indoors except a few Mahants, but it was business as usual in Faizabad, just three km away from Ayodhya, by the afternoon.
While the celebrations were limited to bhajans and kirtans inside the temple in Ayodhya, people in Faizabad could be seen discussing the court’s verdict on the streets.
However, the entry of outside media in the temple town was strictly banned on Saturday. Only the local media was allowed to enter the town limits.