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Thursday, 6 December, 2001, 12:30 GMT
Ayodhya anniversary raises tensions
Babri mosque
The dispute has divided India's Hindus and Muslims
By the BBC's Ram Dutt Tripathi in Ayodhya

In India security has been tightened in and around the twin towns of Ayodhya-Faizabad to prevent any disturbances on the anniversary of the demolition of an ancient mosque.

Members of a hard-line Hindu organisation, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), razed the Babri mosque in Ayodhya nine years ago.

The demolition sparked off the worst sectarian violence in recent memory in which nearly 2,000 people were killed.

Officials say so far the situation is peaceful.

Indian troops
Crowd control is a serious issue

The authorities have banned the entry of heavy vehicles in Ayodhya-Faizabad.

Those travelling on smaller vehicles are subjected to thorough searches by the police.

Officials say this is to prevent any mischief in or around the disputed site.

Bans enforced

Orders banning assembly, meetings and use of public address systems within a mile from the disputed complex have been issued.

Hindu activists of the VHP are organising a symbolic victory day rally at their headquarters to mark the occasion.

A VHP spokesman says a pledge will also be made to start constructing the proposed Ram Temple at the site.

Ayodhya mosque
Nearly 2,000 died after mosque was destroyed

Hindus say the demolished mosque had been built on the birth place of the Hindu deity, Lord Ram.

They consider its demolition on 6 December 1992 as the liberation of the site from slavery.

Muslims, on the other hand, are observing a protest day and are keeping their shops and businesses closed.

They will also offer special prayers for restoration of the mosque at the same site.

Cautious approach

The administration appears to be more cautious this year following the VHP's plans to start building a large temple at the disputed site next March.

Recently several VHP leaders barged into the restricted area causing a nationwide furore.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had to order increased security to maintain the status quo until the courts gave a final verdict on the dispute.

VHP leaders are mobilising support for the site to be handed over to them.

The prime minister has pledged to find a negotiated solution to the dispute before the VHP deadline on 12 March.

So far, there has been no dialogue between the two communities and the court is likely to take several years to deliver a judgement.

See also:

18 Oct 01 | South Asia
Hindu hardliners' Ayodhya strategy
18 Oct 01 | South Asia
Ayodhya temple security stepped up
10 Apr 01 | South Asia
Minister testifies on Ayodhya attack
12 Feb 01 | South Asia
Trial for Ayodhya accused
21 Jan 01 | South Asia
Hindus warned over Ayodhya temple
20 Jan 01 | South Asia
Hindus set Ayodhya deadline
16 Nov 00 | South Asia
India's Ayodhya cauldron bubbles
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