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Prime Minister Narendra Modi has urged ministers to refrain from making unnecessary statements, as the verdict in the decades-long Ayodhya case is expected any day now. It is to be pronounced before Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi retires on November 17.

According to reports, PM Modi has told ministers that it is their responsibility to maintain peace and they should avoid making unnecessary statements on the Ram Mandir case. The party’s social media head Amit Malviya has also briefed the BJP’s IT cell in this regard.

Security has been tightened in Ayodhya and intelligence agencies are on high alert. Barricades have sprung up and vehicles are undergoing routine checks. The city’s residents are busy making preparations, stocking up food items and other essentials, while some are even sending their family members out of the city. Family events and similar engagements are being rescheduled or shifted to venues out of Ayodhya, say some locals.

Leaves of administrative officers in Uttar Pradesh have already been cancelled till November 30 as a precautionary measure. The police have deployed 16,000 volunteers in Faizabad to keep an eye on the distribution on objectionable content on social media.

A similar number of volunteers have been put in place across 1,600 localities in the district to maintain calm when the order on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute is delivered, according to a UP police officer.

Ayodhya District Magistrate Anuj Kumar Jha has appealed to the public to not like, share or forward social media posts which may hurt the sentiments of any community. The administration has also created several WhatsApp groups for volunteers to pass on information, he said.

Jha has also issued orders against holding processions related to Ram Janmabhoomi. Prohibitory orders have been promulgated till December 28.

Four security zones have been created — red, yellow, green and blue. While red and yellow zones will be manned by Central Para Military Forces (CPMF), green and blue zones will be manned by civil police, he told the media.

The red security zone covers the disputed site, the yellow zone covers 5 miles periphery of Ayodhya, the green covers 14 miles periphery of the temple town and the blue zone covers the adjoining districts of Ayodhya.

Seven hundred government schools, 50 UP Board-aided schools and 25 CBSE schools have been taken over to accommodate security forces. Eight temporary jails have been set up in different colleges in Ambedkar Nagar district.

The Ayodhya dispute is over 2.77 acres of land in Ayodhya, which many Hindus believe was the birthplace of Lord Ram. Babjri Majid, a 16th Century mosque, said to have been built by Mughal Emperor Babur that stood at the spot was, was demolished brick by brick in December 1992 by right-wing activists.

The Allahabad High Court in 2010 had ruled that the disputed land be split into three parts — the site of the Ram Lalla idol would go to the party representing Ram Lalla Virajman (the installed infant Ram deity), Nirmohi Akhara to get Sita Rasoi and Ram Chabutara, and the Sunni Wakf Board to get the rest. All three parties then appealed against the decision in the Supreme Court.

A five-judge Constitution bench, led by Chief Justice Gogoi, had reserved its verdict in the politically sensitive case on October 16 after a marathon 40-day hearing. The other members of the bench are Chief Justice-designate SA Bobde, Justices DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer.

— India Legal Bureau

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