Chants of “Jai Shri Ram!” echoed in the verdant lawns of the Supreme Court (SC) as saffron-clad sadhus and their followers and lawyers took a victory lap as soon as the Ayodhya verdict was announced on Saturday. The sound of conch shells could also be heard.
The decades-long flashpoint of Indian politics had finally come to a close, with the five-member Constitution Bench allowing the construction of a Ram temple on the disputed site in Ayodhya.
Roads leading up to the SC in central Delhi were heavily barricaded, with strong security presence on and outside the campus.
The reception office of the court refused to make any entry passes for outsiders till the judgment was pronounced. It did not matter in the queue was Sri Mahant Dharam Das, the litigant representing deity of Ram.
The group of five judges — Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi (centre), flanked by (left to right) Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde, Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, and Justice S Abdul Nazeer — after delivering the verdict at the
Das, a descendant of Baba Abhiram Das, who installed the Ram idol in the inner courtyard of the disputed site, tried in vain to get an entry into the court room.
Minutes before the verdict, Das said, “The judgment should not be based on logic, faith, or reason, but should stand the scrutiny of law and facts. Had the decision been made on the basis of faith then we would have won already.”
The brass of Hindu Mahasabha was brimming with confidence since morning, sure that the verdict will be in their favour.
“Today, we celebrate Diwali. We will light diyas (lamps) to welcome Lord Ram across the country,” said Ravi Ranjan Singh, member of central advisory committee of the Hindu Mahasabha.
Not everyone shared his enthusiasm, as Sunni Waqf Board lawyer Zafaryab Jilani clearly stated he was not satisfied with the judgment, but respected the order.
“We will seek a review of the verdict. The 5-acre land (which the SC has awarded for the construction of a mosque) has no value for us. We are appealing for calm and quiet,” he said.
The courtroom was packed with 500 people, many of whom stepped out to greet others with a shake of the hand and a soft “Jai Sri Ram” as the Bench read its final decision.
“I have never seen such enthusiasm and interest in any hearing before,” said Devendra Saini, advocate general, Haryana government.
Cameras flashed as lawyers joined sadhus and chanted: “Ek hi naara, ek hi naam; Jai Sri Ram, Jai Sri Ram! (Only one slogan, only one name; praise be to Ram).”
Some from the legal fraternity, however, did not approve of this behaviour and reprimanded the lawyers for the “chest thumping.”
Maulana Suhaib Kasmi, president of Ayodhya Varta Committee, hugged representatives from the other side. “Isine desh ko toda tha, aaj yehi desh ko jodega (What divided us back then, will unite us today),” he said.
The committee had mediated between the contesting religious parties. Kasmi heads a Muslim religious organisation based in Uttar Pradesh.
Since 1996, the Ram temple in Ayodhya has been a constant in the election manifestos of the ruling Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP).