The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Prize divides Ayodhya protectors

Ayodhya, July 10: Whose bullets felled the Ayodhya attackers'

The Rs 35-lakh question has driven a wedge between the security forces assigned to protect the most controversial place of worship in the country.

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) are now locked in a tussle over who should be rewarded for mowing down the militants before they reached their likely target ' the makeshift temple with an idol of Ram.

At stake are cash prizes totalling Rs 35 lakh, gallantry awards and out-of-turn promotions.

Two chief ministers ' Mulayam Singh Yadav of Uttar Pradesh and Narendra Modi of Gujarat ' have announced cash awards of Rs 25 lakh and Rs 10 lakh, respectively. However, neither chief minister specified who should get the cash prize.

Since the PAC is a state force, it was assumed that Mulayam Singh’s reward is meant for them.

If the same yardstick is applied, the CRPF will have to be content with the Rs 10 lakh announced by Modi. Gujarat hosts the headquarters of one of the Ayodhya battalions of the central force.

But CRPF jawans feel that they deserve to be rewarded more than the PAC as the central force was the decisive factor that thwarted the attack.

Multiple agencies are in charge of the complex that has been divided into the core area (called the red zone where the makeshift temple stands) and the acquired area (known as the yellow zone). The CRPF guards the red zone, while the PAC is in charge of the yellow zone.

The militants had stormed the yellow zone and were on their way towards the red zone when the encounter broke out, triggering a hail of bullets from all sides.

The CRPF jawans have pointed out that had they not taken position outside the yellow zone on time, the militants would have succeeded in advancing unchallenged towards the makeshift shrine.

“The PAC had taken shelter in a nearby generator room,” said a CRPF jawan. But PAC additional director-general Bua Singh said the generator room was used as a shield against bullets.

The CRPF said its women force, too, put in a sterling performance. “Our women force belonging to 135 CRPF battalion, who were guarding the red zone, came down to the yellow area to fire. But the force is feeling a bit low now as its bold initiative has gone unrecognised so far,” Shanto Devi, the commandant of the women’s wing, said.

“I am proud of the way the CRPF jawans braved the bullets and stopped the militants from reaching near the sanctum sanctorum. Four of our jawans were hit,” added Karamvir Singh, the CRPF inspector-general.

However, PAC’s Bua Singh said the first assault was faced by his force. He has shortlisted 10 jawans for the out-of-turn promotions.

The list has caused disquiet among the PAC itself with some jawans alleging that it does not contain names of five who took part in the encounter. They have threatened to move court.

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