Ayodhya: A sense of relief prevailed on Saturday evening among residents of Ayodhya, irrespective of their faith, with many saying that the Supreme Court verdict has finally ended the uncertainty that plagued the temple city due to the highly-polarising Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute.
Tight security arrangements had been made and most people preferred to stay indoors this morning. But as the judgement was declared and the day passed off peacefully, the hustle and bustle returned to the temple city with devotees flocking to various temples.
While the verdict was greeted with chants of 'Jai Sri Ram' in temples and sweets were distributed by some, there was absence of any loud celebrations following repeated appeals by authorities as well as political and spiritual leaders to exercise restraint and not indulge in any celebratory frenzy.
Anand Kumar, a resident of the temple town and a social worker, said local people were hoping for long that the dispute will be resolved.
Pointing towards the flurry of shopping activities in the vicinity of the Naya Ghat, he said, "Most of the devotees are feeling happy as the lingering Ayodhya dispute eventually reached its logical conclusion."
Pilgrims, who visited the makeshift Ram Lalla temple at the disputed site, appeared overwhelmed when told about the judgment. Bharat Singh was among them. "My dream has come true. I feel blessed," Singh said, holding back tears.
Mumbai resident Shreenarayan Shukla and Moradabad business Manish Gupta emerged smiling, their foreheads smeared with sandalwood paste.
The common refrain among Muslim residents was that peace should prevail and there should be no more politics over the issue. There were also some like Haji Mohammad Sajid, a tailoring shop owner in the vicinity of Ramjanmabhoomi police station, who did not appear satisfied with the verdict.
"I feel that the decision is incomplete," he said, but refused to elaborate.
"All I want is that an atmosphere of peace should prevail, and nothing else," said 65-year-old Azeez, a resident of Niyava Bakra Mandi area of Ayodhya, when he was asked about the Supreme Court verdict.
More than half the shops were open in the area and people were carrying out their daily chores despite the high security.
Azhar Saeed, who run a business of agro-farming, said the Supreme Court judgement will "promote peace and brotherhood in the city, and gradually the hatred will disappear".
When asked whether there was any apprehension or tension prevailing among Muslims, Azhar dubbed it as a "rumour" spread by "vested interest to make illiterate people feel afraid".
Pointing to shops in the vicinity doing business, he said, "Life is absolutely normal, you can see for yourself."
There are around 100 Muslim families living in Niyava area of the district.
Shoaib Shameem Siddiqui, who runs a business, said, "I welcome the judgement delivered by the Supreme Court in the Ayodhya dispute case."
Sachin Chaurasia, who owns a paint shop, said, "After the judgment, there is a feeling of relief among residents. We too have resumed our daily business. All is well."
Senior priest of Hanumangarhi temple Mahant Raju Das said that "there will be normal havan and aarti programme in the temple. There will be no special puja on this occasion."
With no untoward incident reported, police personnel too appeared relieved as some were seen sipping tea and even surfing the internet to ascertain the details of the Supreme Court judgment. However, strict checks by security personnel at every crossing of the city continued.
Roadside vendors too came out at dusk. Rajendra Kumar, who sells loose vermillion (sindoor), said he was overjoyed like other devotees.
Govind, Shubham and Anil, who have a shop selling puja items, said the footfall of devotees increased as the day progressed. "Most of the people coming here wanted a magnificent poster of Lord Ram. An atmosphere of joy is visible in Ayodhya after decades. We must treasure this," Anil said.
In Hanumangari area, some youngsters chanted "Jai Shri Ram" as soon as the news of the Supreme Court judgement trickled in, but were told by elders not to do so.
As the day passed, the chants were heard several times.
Ramesh Das, 40, distributed sweets to passersby. "I never expected this day will come," he said.
Mahant Sanjay Das of Hanumangarhi temple was seen bursting crackers.
The administration said in the evening that the situation in the entire district is normal and also released some videos.
Ayodhya divisional commissioner Manoj Mishra, inspector general Sanjiv Gupta, district magistrate Anuj Jha and senior superintendent of police Ashish Tiwary conducted an aerial survey by helicopter to take stock of the situation.
Speaking to reporters here, the SSP said, "The patrolling by police personnel will continue, and we are keeping a close watch on social media. Our endeavour is that the common man should feel safe, secure and face the least inconvenience".
Around Naya Ghat, it was business as usual at shops selling puja items. People were heard discussing the judgment at the eateries there and a handful of youngsters shouted 'Jai Shri Ram' slogans.
With the sun setting in the backdrop, people from different walks of life were seen moving towards various temples located in the vicinity of Naya Ghat and taking part in Saryu Aarti.