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No written guarantee for peace: VHP

By Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
October 15, 2003 20:01 IST
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The Vishwa Hindu Parishad on Tuesday refused to give a written guarantee to the Union government that its October 17 sankalp (resolve) rally in Ayodhya will be peaceful.

Thousands of Ram bhakts, as the VHP calls them, have been gathering in the twin towns of Ayodhya and Faizabad this week to resolve to build a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya.

Also see: Paramilitary forces surround Karsevakpuram

Several thousand VHP activists have been detained in various parts of Uttar Pradesh, where Mulayam Singh Yadav's government sees a sinister design in the VHP rally to disturb the temple town's peace.

VHP spokesman Vireshwar Dwivedi told reporters in New Delhi: "Union Minister of State for Home Swami Chinmayanand spoke to VHP general secretary Pravin Togadia on Tuesday and perhaps asked for a written undertaking that the Ram bhakts will remain peaceful.

"When Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani have not been able to give a written undertaking that they will bring about peace in Jammu and Kashmir, how can a social organisation like the VHP give such a guarantee concerning our programme in Ayodhya?"

Also see: Avoid confrontation, Advani tells Mulayam

Dwivedi warned that if Ram bhakts were harassed, they will respond in an appropriate way.

Asked what if this entailed violence, Diwedi said it would be 'even-handed.'

"We are not satisfied with the central government's arrangements in Ayodhya. About 1. 75 lakh Ram bhakts have been kept in inhuman conditions...they must be treated in a dignified way," he said.

Dwivedi said around 45,000 Ram bhakts led by Swami Vasudevananda Saraswati have left for Ayodhya from Prayag to participate in the October 17 rally.

On VHP vice-president Giriraj Kishore's arrest in Lucknow by the state administration, Dwivedi said it is a matter of concern that he has not been allowed to talk to the media.

The VHP spokesman asserted that VHP activists will take part in the rally in large numbers come what may.


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Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi