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Ayodhya Ram temple faces renewed terror threat

HM Shah's commitment to complete the work in Ayodhya in four months had riled JeM; when PM Modi announced the trust, the ISI could not take it any more

Editorials

In India

Security of Ram temple workshop was heightened in Ayodhya today, with a heavier deployment of the police force outside, a metal detector installed at the entry gate and the boundary wall of the entire campus raised in view of the possibility and danger of a terrorist attack. This, even as construction work for the promised temple in the Ram Janmabhoomi is going on here.

On 25 December 2019, Uttar Pradesh Police had geared up its security apparatus across Ayodhya after intelligence agencies had flagged “possible terror strikes” by Jaish-e-Mohammed operatives following inputs that the Pakistan-based terror group chief Masood Azhar had appealed to his militants to bomb across the temple town.

That input was received right after Union Home Minister Amit Shah had set a deadline of four months to construct a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya. Through Telegram, Azhar had urged mercenaries to carry out “stellar and spectacular” attacks on Ayodhya.

Before that, seven Pakistan-based terrorists had managed to enter India through the porous India-Nepal border in November 2019. They were hiding in Gorakhpur and Ayodhya of Uttar Pradesh and were untraceable. Five of the terrorists had been identified. They were Mohammad Yaqub, Abu Hamza, Mohammad Shahbaz, Nisar Ahmad and Mohammad Qaumi Chaudhary.

When security cover across the Line of Control became virtually impenetrable with heavy deployment of forces, Pakistan pushed terrorists through the porous Nepal border.

Ayodhya faces a renewed threat

That threat perception has heightened a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday the name of the trust for the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya and 67.7 ac of acquired land for the trust for the construction of the promised Ram temple.

Pakistani intelligence agency ISI had been plotting to wreck Ayodhya, the intelligence agencies had learnt last month. When Faizabad Military Intelligence interrogated Rashid, an ISI agent caught in Varanasi, they also found in his possession photographs of key locations in Agra, Varanasi, Prayagraj, Gorakhpur and now Ayodhya Yellow Zone, Faizabad and Amethi military areas. He sent photographs of entry points and other areas leading to the Ram Janmabhoomi.

Inquiries had revealed Rashid had visited Ayodhya last year on a reconnaissance mission. Military intelligence investigated Rashid’s Ayodhya connections. The ISI took information from Rashid about the violence against the CAA in the state. Rashid shared photos and information related to the demonstrations shared to the ISI.

There were apprehensions that the protests against the CAA would be part of a planned conspiracy. The police then sent the pictures taken from Rashid to the Forensic Science Laboratory for testing.

The intelligence agencies had got a whiff of this Pakistani terror conspiracy before 9 November 2019, the day the Supreme Court delivered the verdict on the Ayodhya dispute. On 5 November 2019, the suspects entered India via Nepal and then on 25 December, Masood Azhar, the mastermind of terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Muhammad, conspired to terrorise Ayodhya.

Aftab, a resident of Khawaspura in the city, was an ISI agent here. The UP ATS had arrested him in the year 2017 with the help of Military Intelligence. Aftab used to give information related to the Indian Army to ISI. The relatives of both Rashid and Aftab live in Pakistan. Both went to visit their relatives and returned as agents of the ISI.

SSP Ashish Tiwari had said in January that the security of Ayodhya was already a high alert. He had informed the media of regular checking at the district and city entry points. Major locations and congested areas of the city were being monitored with CC cameras, he had assured. However, today’s security measures indicate the previous preparations to fight terror were not enough.

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