Ayodhya: The twin towns of Ayodhya and Faizabad have been turned into virtual fortresses with around 20,000 security personnel standing guard to ensure there is no trouble ahead of a court verdict, due Friday, on the Babri Masjid-Ramjanmabhoomi dispute, officials said.
"Security personnel of paramilitary forces, the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and other agencies are keeping round-the-clock vigil," district police chief R.S. Rathore told reporters.
"Security checks have been intensified at all the entry points of Ayodhya. We have been specially instructed to deal with anti-social elements and rumour mongers with an iron fist," he added.
He said the situation in Faizabad, about 150 km from the state capital Lucknow, was "entirely peaceful".
The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court is scheduled to deliver its much expected judgment Friday on the title suit in Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, which has been hanging fire for about six decades. The dispute over the site is an emotive issue and authorities as well as people fear breach of peace and order by hotheads.
Officials added that Ayodhya and Faizabad have been divided into 17 security zones and 45 sub-sectors with nearly 60 magistrates monitoring security arrangements.
The educational institutions, including the Lucknow University (LU) and many degree colleges in the state capital, have decided to suspend teaching Sep 24 and 25 in the wake of the much-awaited judgment.
However, the district administration here has not issued any order for the closure of schools, colleges or other educational institutions, clarified an official.
"Taking into account the peaceful atmosphere in Faizabad, we have not issued any order for closing educational institutes. It is being wrongly reported by some mediapersons that schools/colleges have been closed ahead of the verdict," Faizabad District Magistrate M.P. Agarwal said over the phone.
According to senior officials, the state government has left it to the district administrations to decide whether education institutions should be opened or not ahead of the Ayodhya judgment.
The 16th century Babri Masjid was demolished Dec 6, 1992, by Hindu radicals who believed that it was built on the birthplace of Lord Ram. The demolition had triggered nationwide riots.