It was only in late 2019 that the Supreme Court finally ensured closure in the dispute. Ruling in favour of a temple at the site. but also that the demolition of the Babri Masjid mosque was a crime, and asking that land for a new mosque be provided elsewhere in Ayodhya.
Thirty years after a demolition shook Ayodhya, and also the rest of the country, the temple town is in the news again for a demolition — a drive to bring down shops along a crowded road to broaden it, part of Ayodhya’s development.
Work on that temple is now on, with a deadline of 2024, and in anticipation of its opening, which will make Ayodhya one of the holiest places in the world for pilgrims, the state government is developing other infrastructure in the town. In the works are a new township, an industrial area, and even an airport.
And the shops demolished for widening a key road.
“Development comes at a cost. Most of the time the marginalized section of the society has to bear the brunt of development,” rues Kanhaiya Lal Gupta, a shopkeeper on Hanuman Garhi road, who has had his shop demolished.
“We never imagined that the Ram Mandir would bring new worries for us.”
Most of the shops at Hanuman Garhi were owned by the Hanuman Garhi Temple Trust and the shopkeepers tenants. Now, most of the shops there are around 500 shops will be demolished.
The Yogi Adityanath government has approved ₹1000 crore for three road widening projects in Ayodhya; the Hanuman Garhi road, for instance, leads to Ram Janmabhoomi.
The government wants to complete the project by December 2023 which is also the deadline for the Ram Mandir to open for devotees.
The government has handed out compensation to all displaced shopkeepers.
Ayodhya, is looking ahead, “beyond Babri Masjid,” said Iqbal Ansari. One of the Muslim litigants in the Ram Janmabhoomi -Babri Masjid dispute.
“After the five-judge bench of the Supreme Court (on November 9, 2019) paved the way for the construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya by a unanimous decision the title dispute ended,” added Ansari.
He convinced the development of the temple and of Ayodhya will only bring prosperity.
“Traffic of devotees in Ayodhya has increased manifold after construction of Ram Mandir began. Imagine what will be the situation when the temple opened. We need roads.”
Ansari’s words find an echo in an unlikely place, with Raju Das, priest of Hanuman Garhi temple. “Babri Masjid demolition in Ayodhya’s past and construction of Ram Mandir is our present.”
“We are looking forward to Ayodhya’s development. Ongoing development projects in Ayodhya will bring prosperity for locals and jobs for youths,” he added.
Sajid Mir, 17, a resident of Tedhi Bazar area, cleared his Class 12 Board exams last year. And is an undergraduate student at Ram Manohar Lohia Awadh University, Ayodhya. He is studying science, knows only what he told of the Babri Masjid demolition, and worried about his career. “If the ongoing development work brings employment for me in Ayodhya. Then I will definitely stay back, else I will look for a job in a metropolitan city.”
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