Ayodhya: On a day when the Allahabad High Court will pronounce its long-awaited judgment on the Ayodhya land dispute, this heavily-guarded temple town Thursday morning appeared normal and relaxed.
Commercial establishments near the disputed site and other places were open like any other day, ahead of the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute verdict that is to be pronounced by the court`s Lucknow bench at 3.30 p.m.
Children were seen going to schools on rickshaws and tempos.
Devotees too converged at the banks of the Saryu river for bathing and conducting other rituals as per the Vedic tradition.
With no restrictions imposed on visiting Ram Lala - the makeshift temple at the disputed site - devotees continued to line up for `darshan`.
"Everything is normal here. We opened the shop at the routine time. You can see that the customers, particularly devotees, are lining up at the shops here like any other day," Dinesh Tiwari, who owns a sweet shop near Hanuman Garhi area, told reporters.
"We are quite relaxed that the judgment in a way would mark the end of a phase of the long legal battle that has been on for the last several decades," he added.
Girja Prasad, another shopkeeper who sells `puja` items, said: "People of this holy city are quite confident that no untoward incident would take place in the wake of the judgment. That`s why they are coming out for shopping and other activities."
Asif Hussain, 42, who runs a coaching centre in the Vashistganj area blamed the media for blowing the Ayodhya issue out of proportion, creating a sense of fear among visitors.
"I have seen several recent reports in newspapers and on TV channels that indicated that life in Ayodhya has come to a standstill in the wake of the judgment. But let me tell you that it never happened, at least in Ayodhya," he said.
"Such reports of the media only affected the outsiders who normally do not prefer to come here nowadays," he added.
Residents of Ayodhya feel that after the high court judgment the matter would either be taken to the Supreme Court or the dispute settled amicably, which in turn would reduce the deployment of security personnel in the city.
"We now feel relaxed as chances are that after the verdict the deployment of paramilitary forces, police and security personnel of other agencies would reduce to a considerable extent," said Ashraf Jamal who owns a mobile repairing shop in the Paanji Tola area.
The demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 by Hindu radicals had triggered nationwide riots in which at least 2,000 people were killed.