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A nation looking over its shoulder

New Delhi, Dec. 5: Ten years ago on this day no one had believed Babri Masjid could happen.

Ten years later all of India believes that anything, almost anything, can happen.

Ayodhya today was very much like Ayodhya on December 5, 1992. Paramilitary forces were patrolling the temple town and its twin city of Faizabad. No vehicle was being allowed to enter Ayodhya. All points of entry to the government-acquired land at the site where the Babri Masjid stood had been sealed.

All important temples in Ayodhya are armed with metal detectors and are heavily guarded. Muslim organisations have decided to throw covers over the minarets of the idgah in Faizabad tomorrow as a mark of protest.

Tomorrow is Id, a day of celebration, and tomorrow is also December 6. And tomorrow the Vishwa Hindu Parishad is celebrating as shaurya divas.

Is it a day of celebration' Is it a day of mourning' Symbolising the confusion of the past decade, the two have merged into each other — Id and December 6 coinciding by some strange quirk.

In the Id message, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said: “The festival brings with it the message of universal peace, tolerance, brotherhood and compassion.”

In Ayodhya, under red alert, a state official said: “All necessary security steps have been taken to deal with any situation.”

Not in Ayodhya alone. Vehicles were not being allowed near Krishna janmabhoomi in Mathura and Vishwanath temple-Gyanvyapi mosque in Varanasi.

Ten years after the demolition of a mosque no religious place is considered safe.

The VHP is holding what it calls dharma raksha sammelan as part of shaurya divas in Ayodhya’s Karsevakpuram.

Mahant Ram Chandra Paramhans, head of the trust for the Ram temple, had earlier announced that the main ceremony of shaurya divas would be organised by the VHP at Gujarat’s Akshardham temple, scene of the worst militant attack on a religious place earlier this year.

An apprehensive Election Commission wrote to the chief secretary of poll-bound Gujarat to take special precautions.

BJP chief minister Narendra Modi was talking about the possibility that “anything” might happen but it would be the Congress which could do it.

“The Congress is frustrated as it is facing defeat in the Assembly elections. Frustrated people can do anything,” he said.

Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani is heading to Gujarat tomorrow to campaign. On the eve of the 10th anniversary, he spent much of the day in Parliament — so much a central figure in the events surrounding the Babri demolition and now the country’s home minister, in charge of security.

In Ahmedabad, his party president M. Venkaiah Naidu was owning responsibility for failing to prevent the Godhra carnage and the Akshardham attack. “We are not running away from it (responsibility). There is nothing to hide but it takes time to rectify mistakes committed over the past 50 years,” he said. He was talking about the Congress’ mistakes.

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