Tight security is in place across India on the 21st anniversary of the controversial demolition of the 16th century Babri Masjid shrine, in an attempt to defuse any possible Muslim-Hindu flare-up over the issue.
The demolition on December 6, 1992, of the mosque, built by an aide of Mughal king Babar in 1528, triggered widespread violence across the country between Muslims and Hindus causing the death of scores of people from both communities.
The north Indian Ayodhya town in Uttar Pradesh state, where the mosque was located, saw a three-tier security cordon on Friday, with entry and exit to and from the town tightly regulated, reports said.
Up to 10,000 personnel from the state police, including the armed division and the elite Rapid Action Force (RAF), mounted a tight vigil over the town.
Even the Sarayu river that flows alongside the town was subjected to heavy patrolling, the reports said.
The police reportedly rejected all requests from several Muslim and Hindu organisations for permission to hold religious events, rallies or meetings on Friday.
Among other equipment, closed circuit television cameras had been installed across Ayodhya to prevent violence, the reports said.
Zafaryab Jilani, convenor of the Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC), demanded that those guilty of the Babri mosque demolition should be punished, reports said, adding that he appealed for peace.
Jilani demanded that action be taken against senior leaders of the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), including former union minister LK Advani who were allegedly involved in the demolition.
The Liberhan committee which investigated the demolition in its 2009 report blamed the state BJP-led government at the time of facilitating the demolition. It also held senior leaders of the BJP “intellectually and ideologically” responsible.
The committee charged others including then state chief minister Kalyan Singh and second-line leaders like Uma Bharti and Govindacharya of being “primarily” responsible for the demolition.
Security was tight in other parts of the country too, especially in communally vulnerable locations. The coast guard too was monitoring the country’s borders round the clock, said the reports.