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Ayodhya Muslims still struggling
By S Ubaidur Rahman, Ayodhya and Faizabad

Though the city seems to have been fully painted saffron, Muslims still make a sizeable chunk of the local population. They are scattered in a number of areas of the town. A number of mosques are also dotting the lanes and by-lanes of the city. But there are not many mosques seen on the main roads in Ayodhya. Masjid-e- Brar, a small mosque on Faizabad road is the lone mosque on that road. No other mosque on the main road is visible.

Fear is still deep rooted. A number of people who migrated to other neighboring towns, mainly to Faizabad are slowly returning to Ayodhya. Muhammad Rafi, a resident of Katra mohalla who had left the town after the demolition of the Babri Masjid with hundreds of other people and returned only two years back says that Muslims have not been able to forget the ghostly days and nights of the time when Babri Masjid was demolished. He says that it were they who had to bear the brunt of the karsevaks during the high pitched drama played during the demolition.

It was not the Babri Masjid alone demolished in December 1992; a number of other mosques in the town were either burnt or destroyed by the frenzied mob in the city. A number of shops owned by Muslims were also torched or ransacked. The fear was so widespread that even influential Muslims were forced to leave the city. They would not have left the city had it not been made clear by the administration that it does not care for their safety.

Rafeeq of Qaziana Mohalla also echoes the same view. He says that a number of his relatives have left the city and have not returned back. They have now settled in Faizabad and have no plan to return to this town. He says that the place has become inhospitable for Muslims.

They are still fearful of a reenactment of the drama played during the Babri Masjid demolition days. Wazir, another resident of the same locality says that as the work for the construction of the temple continues, there is every possibility of another escalation of violence as seen during the Babri Masjid demolition days when the VHP and other Saffron outfits decide to start construction of the temple. But he is skeptical of any such move in the near future as he says it will be the undoing of their all efforts so far. He believes that it was only a political stunt played meticulously by the saffron organizations.

The construction of the mosque is still on their agenda. Babri Masjid should be constructed at the same site where it once stood, asserts Ahmad Khan a youth in his early twenties. But he believes that a solution should be sorted out soon to amicably resolve the issue. Should it be given to Hindus as some people are advocating, no way, he shouts back. But yes it should be returned to the Hindus if the court decides so. There is no point in illegally occupying other’s property, he adds.

He adds that he expected the tension to mount once again following the statements by the prime minister, but he was wrong. Though there were reports of rioting in other parts of the state, but nothing happened here in Ayodhya.

But a number of people who left the town are still scared of returning to their homes. They have sold out their properties here and settled permanently in the neighbouring Faizabad which they believe is a safer place to live.

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