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More than 400 VHP activists held in Ayodhya

Source: PTI
Last updated on: October 16, 2003 13:35 IST
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Security forces on Friday raided the central office of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in Ayodhya and other places and arrested more than 400 activists.

The VHP has proposed to hold a 'sankal' meeting in the temple town on Friday.

VHP central secretary Rajendra Singh Pankaj, president of Sadhvi Samaj Varuna Yati, and 40 women were among 400 people arrested during raids at the central office at Karsevakpuram, Additional District Magistrate Sudhakar Adeeb told PTI.

The massive pandal erected at Karsevakpuram, the venue of the VHP meet, was uprooted and PAC soldiers stationed, he said.

Searches were also conducted at a number of ashrams and temples for VHP activists and their leaders who have gone underground. Former Member of Parliament and senior leader Ram Vilas Vendati's house was surrounded, but he was not found, Adeeb said.

Security was beefed up in Faizabad and Ayodhya, he said. "All entry points to the district have been completely sealed and no one, except those having valid passes will be allowed in," he added.

The administration was committed to ensure implementation of the Supreme Court's order for maintaining a status quo at the acquired land, he said.

Security personnel, including paramilitary forces, have been deployed in strength at the Ram Janambhoomi Complex to prevent the karsevaks from sneaking, he said.

Meanwhile the streets of Ayodhya wore a deserted look with shops and business establishment remaining closed and people preferring to remain indoors.

Very few devotees were seen in temples across the city despite it being the festival season.

The sound of blaring sirens of security forces vehicles rent the air in the temple town.

Asked about reports of presence of VHP international president Ashok Singhal in the temple town, Adeeb said it could not be ruled out.

Meanwhile, Vedanti told PTI from an undisclosed destination, which he said was in the town, that the programme would be organised Friday 'come what may' and that Singhal was with him and would participate in it.

"We will hold our sankalp meeting tomorrow and have darshan of the Ram Lala," he said.

Vedanti claimed that thousands of karsevaks had already reached Ayodhya despite stiff security checks and the streets of Ayodhya would be full of them Friday.

He criticised Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav of using 'repressive measures' and said even the court had not barred 'darshan' at the makeshift temple at the disputed site.

Meanwhile, police sources said there were reports that some karsevaks had made it to Ayodhya and were hiding at temples and matts and the administration was shortlisting such places for raids.

As many as 700 VHP workers have been apprehended in Faizabad and Ayodhya since Thursday.

The VHP office at Karsevakpuram has been vacated and security personnel deployed there.

The Howrah-Deheradun express and Sabarmati express, passing through the city have been diverted and the others were being subjected to thorough searches.

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