LUCKNOW — Stray protests and black flag marches Dec. 6 marked the observance in Uttar Pradesh of the 25th anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition in Ayodhya amid high security across the state, including the addition of 27 extra Provincial Armed Constabulary companies.
Protests and marches by both Hindu and Muslim organizations were held to mark the day. The disputed 16th-century structure at the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya was demolished Dec. 6, 1992, by a large crowd of Hindu kar sevaks.
While Hindus, led by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad – which claims the mosque was built at the birthplace of Lord Rama – held victory processions to mark the day as 'Shaurya Diwas,' Muslims observed the Dec. 6 as the 'Black Day.'
Muslim traders kept their shops closed in some parts of Faizabad for what they called the "shahadat of the Babri mosque."
In Meerut, youngsters wearing saffron headgear and carrying symbolic swords held a procession in the name of the VHP and the Bajrang Dal.
They called out slogans in favor of a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya and about how very soon this dream would become a reality.
In the Shamli district of western UP, Muslim put up provocative posters, which were quickly removed by the district administration.
At many mosques in Faizabad and other Muslim dominated areas in the state, black flags could be seen fixed on rooftops. Some Muslims also sported black armbands to register their protest over the razing of the structure.
Members of the All-India Raza Action Committee held a protest march in Bareilly that ended outside the district magistrate's office. In Aligarh, VHP activists celebrated at their Achal Taal office and performed religious rituals for a grand Ram temple.
Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha volunteers at its Beads office in Naurangabad in Aligarh wrote a letter with their blood addressed to President Ram Nath Kovind, demanding an early start to temple construction at Ayodhya.
Students at the Aligarh Muslim University protested with black armbands while 'Quran Khani' was performed by Muslims in Ayodhya for the mosque's construction. A protest march was also taken out at Madhugadhi locality here.
Slogan-shouting Bajrang Dal activists took out a march in Gorakhpur, the hometown of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
This is the first time in 25 years that such visible protests marked the day.
Six PAC companies were deployed to both the Lucknow and Faizabad districts, including the temple town of Ayodhya, which was divided into four zones and 10 sectors. Prohibitory orders were issued to ban the assembly of four or more persons.
A Hindu mob tore down the 16th-century Babri Masjid in Ayodhya Dec. 6, 1992, triggering widespread communal riots across the country.