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VHP's congregation plan in Ayodhya foiled

By Sanjay Pandey in Ayodhya
October 17, 2003 16:30 IST
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The Uttar Pradesh police on Friday foiled the Vishwa Hindu Parishad's plans to hold a congregation as part of its Ram temple construction campaign after arresting the outfit's top leaders Ashok Singhal and Ram Vilas Vedanti and hundreds of activists thronging the temple town for the programme.

Karsevakpuram, the venue for Sankalp Sabha (assembly for taking a pledge), was deserted past noon, well beyond the scheduled time for holding the congregation with police barricading the area and arresting the devotees at various locations in the town.

As thousands of karsevaks trooped in through various points, including along the railway tracks, the police prevented them from reaching the venue of the planned assembly.

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While Singhal refused to leave the VHP central office at Karsevakpuram insisting on darshan of Lord Ram's idol at the disputed site, Vedanti was taken away in a police van outside Faizabad.

Inspector General of Police V N Rai said police did not want to use force and remove Singhal in view of his age and was persuading him to be taken to a government guesthouse.

Singhal wanted immediate withdrawal of security forces and release of all arrested cadres.

The VHP office has been cordoned off and the workers prevented from approaching it.

While VHP leaders claimed arrest of thousands of cadres, the police put the figure at around 4,000 who have been taken out of Faizabad for release.

As the face-off between the VHP and the state government continued, the police reportedly fired in the air and used teargas shells to disperse belligerent karsevaks.

Inspector General of Police (Lucknow zone) V N Rai said rubber bullets were used to scatter the devotees indulging in stonepelting.

Despite the police clampdown, hundreds of karsevaks sneaked into the temple town. They were seen moving in small groups towards the venue of VHP's programme.

Over 2500 karsevaks were camping at Chotti Chawni, the camp office of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas. The police cordoned off the area.

The devotees damaged a government bus and squatted on the roads protesting police action in arresting some of them.

Karsevaks also blocked the railway track near Acharya Narendra Dev Nagar railway station between Ayodhya and Faizabad.


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Sanjay Pandey in Ayodhya
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