As the Supreme Court is expected to deliver its judgement in the Ayodhya land dispute case next week, the Union Home Ministry has cautioned the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government to ensure all security preparedness in the temple town, which will be turned into a virtual fortress to thwart any untoward incident posing a threat to the law and order situation.
Citing intelligence inputs on terror threat, the ministry has alerted the Uttar Pradesh government through a circular issued last week on the orders of Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, directing maximum deployment of police forces on the ground and to keep tabs on rumours on social networking sites and through SMS when the apex court would announce its verdict over the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute.
A “public address system” should also be put up there, the circular mentions, according to a highly placed source requesting anonymity.
Despite Ayodhya, the circular cautioned the Uttar Pradesh government to keep watch on highly sensitive areas in the state and deploy its police force at specific locations, following apprehensions that “anti-social elements” may provoke religious sentiments of the people.
The circular was delivered to Uttar Pradesh’s Chief Secretary Rajendra Kumar Tiwari, Director General of Police O.P. Singh and other departments concerned to avoid last-minute glitches, the source said.
It is learnt through intelligence inputs that over half-a-dozen terrorists have entered Uttar Pradesh through the Nepal border to carry out terror attacks in the state on direction of their Pakistani-based handlers linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen terror groups.
The intelligence inputs warned that the terrorists could be hiding in Ayodhya and nearby towns. Some of them have been reportedly identified as Mohammed Yakub, Abu Hamza, Mohammed Shahbaz, Nisar Ahmed and Mohammed Qaumi Chaudhary.
The terrorists may enter Ayodhya disguising themselves as Hindu men, the input said.
While security is always on high alert in Ayodhya, especially around the disputed site, the security apparatus has further been strengthened in view of a verdict and the state police departments assured of presence of over 50,000 police personnel on the day when the Supreme Court would announce the much-awaited judgement.
An Uttar Pradesh police officer, seeking anonymity, said that anti-terror squads, special police and paramilitary personnel, including Rapid Action Force (RAF) and drones, would be deployed in Ayodhya to monitor the crowd in real time.
According to the officer, around 50 companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) is ready apart from RAF companies. Around 10 companies of PAC and other security agencies are permanently posted for year-round security of the disputed site, trifurcated into blue, yellow and red zones.
Over a dozen Superintendent of Police-rank officers along with 30 Deputy SPs and other lower junior rank officers would be deputed in Ayodhya which has been divided into eight zones, said the official.
The Centre has also given order to deploy 40 companies — around 4,000 personnel — of Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) or paramilitary force in Ayodhya that includes 16 companies of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), around six companies each of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Central Industrial Security (CISF), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and RAF.
A total of 13 CRPF companies have already been sent to Ayodhya and others would be sent in two-three days, a Home Ministry source said.
All CAPF companies would reach Ayodhya on November 11 and will be deployed till November 18 as per current order, said the official, adding the deployment of the paramilitary force may be increased as per the need and the date of their deployment can be changed.
In a four-page directive, the Uttar Pradesh government on October 31 had also issued strict guidelines disallowing people from posting offensive posts on social media on deities. The directive will be in force till December 28, prohibits people from posting defamatory remarks on social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter.
A five-judge Supreme Court bench had heard the Ayodhya case on a day-to-day basis for 40 days and reserved its verdict on October 16. The apex court is expected to deliver its verdict on a dispute over the ownership of 2.77-acre of land in Ayodhya before November 17, when Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi retires.
The Hindu parties, during the hearing, had argued that the entire 2.77-acre land is the birthplace of Lord Ram while the Muslim parties claimed the title over the land, saying Muslims had ownership of the land since 1528 when the mosque was built.
As the countdown for the Supreme Court verdict begins, the law enforcing agencies in Uttar Pradesh are also getting battle ready.
Police vehicles are being repaired, the armoury is being re-visited to ensure that there are no last-minute glitches and even the public address system is being tested.
“It is important for us that vehicles and the public address system are in perfect order in places that are communally sensitive. This would not just help in countering rumours and also help in crowd control. Rumours and uncontrolled mobs can play havoc in a situation, where mass sentiment is involved,” said a senior police officer.
The Police headquarters has already issued directions to police chiefs in the 34 communally sensitive districts including Meerut, Agra, Aligarh, Rampur, Bareilly, Ferozabad, Kanpur, Lucknow, Saharanpur, Shamli, Muzaffarnagar, Bulandshahr and Azamgarh.
Underlining the importance of the public address systems in policing, former deputy general of police (DGP) Brijlal recalled, “Two days after the Babri Masjid demolition, a subordinate informed me that a rumour of my murder was being circulated in Meerut and tension was building up. I was SSP Meerut then. I took to the public address system and cleared the air. Today with WhatsApp and SMS, such rumours can fly at an alarming speed.”
Brijlal said he was assistant deputy general of police (ADGP) – Law and Order during the Allahabad High Court verdict on Ayodhya in September 2010, and he ensured that the public address systems were in place in all districts.
The Police Department is also getting its vehicles repaired and serviced so that there are no commuting problems in case of any emergency.
“We are already tracking the social media in a big way to check for rumours and misinformation being passed around. Our focus is also on potential trouble makers and we may opt for preventive detention if the situation demands,” said the police official. (IANS)