Uttar Pradesh heaved a sigh of relief on Saturday as the day passed off peacefully amid continued vigil on the law and order situation by authorities after the Supreme Court's verdict on the Ayodhya issue, which had kept the holy town on edge for years.
As people began the day awaiting the judgement with bated breath, the official machinery, especially the security forces, remained alert even as the verdict, delivered earlier during the day, was welcomed by both the Hindu and Muslim communities.
While Ayodhya resembled a city under seige earlier during the day, the scene was no different elsewhere in the state with police and central forces keeping an eye over the security situation and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath personally monitoring it from a hi-tech control room in the state capital.
"There is no report of any untoward incident from anywhere in the state. We are keeping a close watch (on the law and order situation). Our team is on the job," UP Director General of Police O P Singh told PTI.
He said an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) has been set up here for the first time to keep an eye on reports emerging from the media, social media and other sources, both before and after the pronouncement of the verdict in the case.
In a unanimous verdict, the Supreme Court on Saturday paved the way for the construction of a Ram Temple at the disputed site at Ayodhya, while directing the Centre to allot a 5-acre plot to the Sunni Waqf Board for building a mosque.
In one of the most important and much-awaited judgements in India's history, a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi put an end to over a century-old dispute that has torn the social fabric of the nation.
The apex court said the mosque should be built at a "prominent site", allotted either by the Centre or the Uttar Pradesh government, and a trust should be set up within three months to build the temple at the site that, many Hindus believe, Lord Ram was born.
The site was occupied by the 16th century Babri mosque, built by Mughal empire's founder Babur, which was destroyed by Hindu kar sevaks on December 6, 1992.
"We welcome the Supreme Court verdict. Everyone should support for unity and amity in the country. In UP, the government is committed to maintain peace and security," Adityanath tweeted in Hindi.
Lanes and bye-lanes in Ayodhya wore a deserted look earlier during the day but it as the day progressed peacefully, the town appeared relaxed. It was similar situation elsewhere in the state.
At some places, people chanted Jai Shri Ram and burst crackers. Mohammed Sajid, who runs a tailoring shop, told PTI that he felt "the verdict is incomplete". He, however, did not elaborate.
After the verdict, Akram, a vegetable seller in Lucknow, said he would carry out his usual business during the day as "there is no tension anywhere".
The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board, one of the main litigants in the Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid case, welcomed the Supreme Court verdict, saying it has no plans to challenge it.
"We welcome the Supreme Court verdict in the case. The Board has no plans to challenge it," Board chairman Zafar Ahmad Farooqui of Farooqui told PTI. "As of now, the verdict is being studied thoroughly after which the Board will issue a detailed statement," he said.
In his initial reaction soon after the judgement, the Board's counsel Zafaryab Jilani had said in Delhi, "The Ayodhya verdict has a lot of contradictions. We will seek a review as we are not satisfied with the verdict."
Talking to PTI on phone later, Jilani, however, clarified that the press conference was organised by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and he had reacted as its secretary and not as the counsel for the Sunni Waqf Board.
The Uttar Pradesh Shia Central Waqf Board, whose appeal was dismissed by the Supreme Court in a unanimous decision, also welcomed the verdict.
"The Shia Central Waqf Board welcomes the Supreme Court decision and congratulates the countrymen, especially those who fought the legal battle in a dignified manner," board chairman Waseem Rizvi said in a statement.
"The dismissal of the Shia Central Waqf Board claim is not a big thing. It had only said that Ram temple should be constructed in Ayodhya and, therefore, today's verdict is a victory for the board," Rizvi said.
"The highest court of the land has today cleared the way for the construction of Ram temple at the 'janmasthan' and put a legal stamp on it," he said.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), which has been at the forefront of the movement for the construction of a Ram Temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya, also asked people not to express their happiness over the decision by coming out on the roads.
"People have been asked not to come on streets to express happiness, lighting candles or any other means, but by staying at their homes to ensure that no one's religious sentiments are hurt," VHP spokesperson Sharad Sharma told PTI.
Senior member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board Khalid Rasheed Farangimahli appealed to members of all religious groups to maintain peace and harmony.
Terming the judgement "a sort of victory for Muslims", Iqbal Ansari, a litigant in the case, said, "I have been saying whatever the court will say will be ok. We respect the verdict. Where land will be provided for the mosque is the responsibility of the government."
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