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Advani to visit Somnath day after Ayodhya verdict

By TCN Special Correspondent,

Ahmedabad: What is going on in the mind of this Hindutva patriarch, when the verdict in the 60-year-old Babri Masjid/Ram Janambhoomi title suit is about to come? Hardly a day after the coming verdict, when the entire country will be witnessing the reactions LK Advani will be visiting the Somnath Mandir. What is the signal he wants to send across? Not clear.

Anyway, the state government has strengthened security particularly in Somnath in view of the senior BJP leader Advani visiting Somnath on September 25, a day after the Ayodhya verdict. It was from Somnath that Advani launched his well-publicised Ram Mandir yatra, popularly known as Rath Yatra, 20 years ago that finally resulted in the demolition of the 16th century mosque and construction of a makeshift temple over it by so-called `kar sevaks (volunteers) with para-military forces deployed to protect the mosque not firing even a single shot or doing anything else to save the old mosque.

Police officials at twin towns of Somnath and Veraval in coastal Gujarat with 25% Muslim population said that the security had been beefed at the two places by requisitioning additional forces and strict watch was being kept on anti-social elements to ensure that no untoward incident took place. Junagadh district authorities, under whose jurisdiction Somnath and Veraval come, also held a meeting a few days ago with revenue and police officials of Somnath-Veraval and instructed the local authorities to ensure that peace and harmony was not disturbed.

The twin towns had remained free of violence even during 1992 violence in the wake of Babri Masjid demolition which claimed a total of 246 lives in Gujarat and over 2,000 deaths during statewide anti-Muslim violence during February-March 2002.

Extra police force has also been deployed and quick response teams made available in major cities like Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Surat to tackle any situation in case of any untoward incident in wake of the verdict. Police is also keeping watch on people staying in hotels, guest houses and visiting railway station, check posts and bus stations in the state to ensure that no miscreants from even outside the state was able to exploit the situation and create trouble.

A senior police official said that though intelligent inputs received did not express any apprehension of violence following the verdict but the state government was not willing to take any chances and hence security had been stepped up all over the state.

Meanwhile, the religious groups like Jamaat-e-Islami Hind and All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMLB) have appealed to the people to maintain peace and harmony no matter whatever be the judgement of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on title suits of the Babri Masjid-Janmabhaoomi. The Gujarat government has issued high security alert across the state.