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Muslim families shift out of Ayodhya

By Sanjay Pandey in Ayodhya
Last updated on: October 16, 2003 23:55 IST
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With the Vishwa Hindu Parishad adamant on going ahead with its October 17 programme at the disputed site and the violence in 1990 and 1992 fresh in their minds, some Muslim families have temporarily shifted out of Ayodhya.

The Uttar Pradesh government fears a law and order problem during the 'Devdarshan and Sankalp Sabha' programme. To make matters worse, the VHP has also refused to give an assurance that the programme will be peaceful.

Apprehending trouble, residents of several Muslim localities claimed that at least 20 to 25 families had left the temple town, but the district administration pleads ignorance.

On Thursday, the VHP rejected Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav's offer that the outfit could hold its programme at any place 5km away from the disputed site in Ayodhya.

VHP media in-charge Sharad Sharma told PTI in Ayodhya that the offer was irrelevant since Ayodhya's city limits extended only to 2km from the disputed site. Moreover, the original venue of the meeting, Karsevakpuram, was about 3km from the disputed site.

The government is continuing efforts to arrive at an understanding with the VHP on the venue of its programme.

Inspector General of Police (Faizabad zone) V N Rai had reportedly approached senior VHP leader Ram Vilas Vedanti with the offer that the organisation could hold its programme in Darshan Nagar on the outskirts of Ayodhya. Ram Janmabhoomi Trust president Nritya Gopaldas said he was in touch with Union Minister of State for Home Swami Chinmayanand to arrive at a compromise on the question of the venue.

At present, three venues are under consideration – Ramsevakpuram, Surajkund and the open field near the Ram Ghat Railway Station.

Convener of the Helal Committee and special member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board Khaliq Ahmed Khan expressed fears that the VHP's programme could disturb communal peace and amity.

There are locks on several doors in the predominantly Muslim areas of Gariwan Tola, Saidwara, Beghumpura, Quaziana and Kotia. The family of Farooq of Gariwan Tola left a few days back, said another resident Rahees Ahmed. Similarly, the families of Rafique and Sasiullah had shifted in with their relatives in nearby districts, he said.

Additional District Magistrate Sudhakar Adeeb said he had no knowledge about Muslim families shifting out of the town. The administration had made special security arrangements in Muslim localities and "we are committed to ensure that no harm comes to them and their properties."


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Sanjay Pandey in Ayodhya
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