The temple town of Ayodhya has become the cynosure of all eyes with the December 6 Babri Masjid demolition anniversary likely to act as a political potboiler ahead of the crucial 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Days after the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) organised 'Dharam Sabha' in Ayodhya to seek support for construction of a grand Ram temple, the right-wing outfits will observe 'Shaurya Diwas' on December 6 to be followed by Gita Jayanti celebrations on December 18.
Hundreds of security personnel dotted the roads and bylanes and police made preventive arrests to thwart protests at the disputed site in Ayodhya on the 26th anniversary of demolition of Babri mosque on Thursday, as authorities kept a tight vigil especially in the wake of saffron outfits raising the pitch over the sensitive Ram temple issue.
Police on Wednesday arrested four activists of Hindu Samaj Party from Ram Janambhoomi police station area apprehending trouble from them at the disputed site on Thursday. So far eight persons have been taken into custody this week, including Mahant of Tapaswi Chawni temple - Paramhans Das, who had threatened to commit self-immolation for the construction of Ram temple on December 6.
Over 2,500 police personnel, besides Rapid Action Force and paramilitary CRPF, have been deployed as part of multi-layered security in Ayodhya including in and around the disputed site and several parts of Hanumangarhi area of the city, officials said.
"Shaurya Diwas (which marks the demolition of Babri Masjid) will be traditionally celebrated. In Ayodhya, VHP along with various Hindu organisations are likely to hold a number of religious programme, including 'hawan', so that a grand temple of Lord Ram is built in Ayodhya," VHP spokesperson in Ayodhya, Sharad Sharma told PTI.
"Special prayers will be offered to Goddess Saraswati so that she can help the people, especially politicians, in removing any obstruction in the path of construction of Ram temple," Sharma said.
"Sarva baadha mukti hawans (hawans seeking to get rid of all obstructions) will be held. Tributes will also be paid to the 'karsewaks' who faced the bullets," he said.
Elaborating further, the VHP leader said similar Dharam Sabha was scheduled to be held in Delhi on December 9 in which over 5 lakh people are likely to participate.
"On January 31 and February 1, we are going to organise 'Dharam Sansad' in Prayagraj in which more than 5,000 seers from across the country will participate. Seers from southern states and north-eastern states will be specially invited," the VHP spokesperson said.
Dharam Sansad will deliberate upon Ram temple, cow protection and River Ganga, he said.
"Social harmony will be another issue on which detailed discussions will be held," Sharma said.
"Through the Dharam Sabha, we were able to send a message that the Hindu society wants a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya," he said, adding the road map of the next course of action will be finalised during the 2019 Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj.
Mahant Ramdas of Nirmohi Akhara said around 500 prominent ashrams of the temple town will be illuminated with lamps on December 6.
"We will celebrate the day as Shaurya Diwas as it was on this day Ram Janmabhoomi was 'liberated' from a Mughal structure. We will light ghee lamps at around 500 prominent ashrams of the temple town to celebrate the day," he said.
At a Dharam Sabha organised in Ayodhya on November 25, Nritya Gopaldas, president of the Ram Janmbhoomi Nyas, had said, "Such a large attendance shows how much people are attached to the Ram temple".
"We respect the courts. We have great hopes from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. I request Adityanath to pave the way for the construction of Ram temple," he said.
Ram Bhadracharya, a Hindu seer, claimed that he had spoken to a senior Union minister last month and was told that Ram devotees would not be deprived of their deity's temple in Ayodhya.
The minister told us that once the model code of conduct comes to an end after the declaration of results of the ongoing Assembly polls, the prime minister will take a decision on the issue by opting for the ordinance route, he said.
The year 2017, which marked the completion of 25 years of demolition of Babri Masjid, had seen heavy security deployment in the twin towns of Faizabad and Ayodhya, as the VHP and Bajrang Dal observed 'Shaurya Diwas' (Day of Valour) while Muslim organisations observed 'Yaum e Gham' (Day of Sorrow).
( With inputs from PTI )