Lucknow, Dec 6: Stray protests and black flag marches on Wednesday marked the observance in Uttar Pradesh of the 25th anniversary of the Babri mosque demolition in Ayodhya amid high security across the state, including 27 more companies of the Provincial Armed Constabulary.
Protests or marches by both Hindu and Muslim organisations were held to mark the day. The disputed 16th-century structure at the Ramjanambhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya was demolished on December 6, 1992, by a large crowd of Hindu kar sevaks.
While the Hindus, led by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), took out victory processions to mark the day as ‘Shaurya Diwas’, the Muslims observed the day as ‘Black Day’.
Muslim traders kept their shops closed in some parts of Faizabad for what they called the “shahadat of the Babri mosque”.
In Meerut, youngsters wearing saffron headgear and carrying symbolic swords took out a procession under VHP and Bajrang Dal aegis.
They raised slogans in favour of a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya and shouted slogans on how very soon this dream would become a reality.
Some provocative posters were put up by Muslims in Shamli district of western UP, but were soon taken down by the district administration.
At many mosques in Faizabad and other Muslim dominated areas in the state, black flags could be seen fixed on rooftops. Some Muslims also sported black armbands to register their protest over the razing of the structure.
Members of the All-India Raza Action Committee took out a protest march in Bareilly that ended outside the District Magistrate’s office. In Aligarh, VHP activists celebrated at their Achal Taal office and performed religious rituals for a grand Ram temple.
Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha volunteers at its Beads office in Naurangabad in Aligarh wrote a letter with their blood addressed to President Ram Nath Kovind, demanding an early start to temple construction at Ayodhya.
Students at the Aligarh Muslim University protested with black armbands while ‘Quran Khani’ was performed by Muslims in Ayodhya for the mosque’s construction. A protest march was also taken out at Madhugadhi locality here.
Slogan-shouting Bajrang Dal activists took out a march in Gorakhpur, the hometown of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
It is for the first time in 25 years that such visible protests marked the day.
Six PAC companies each were deployed in Lucknow and Faizabad districts, including the temple town of Ayodhya which was divided into four zones and 10 sectors. Prohibitory orders were issued to ban the assembly of four or more persons.
A Hindu mob had torn down the 16th-century Babri Masjid in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, triggering widespread communal riots across the country.
While the VHP — which claims the mosque was built at the birthplace of Lord Rama — has been celebrating the day as ‘Shaurya Diwas’, some Muslim groups observe December 6 as ‘Black Day’.