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Katiyar holds anti-terror rally in Ayodhya

By Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow
May 19, 2008 23:19 IST
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Former Bhartiya Janata Party Member of Parliament and founder of the Bajrang Dal, that gave him his first political pedestal, Vinay Katiyar was out to use the sadhus of Ayodhya to raise a united voice against terror, that could become a plank for his own political revival from Ayodhya.

Tempers ran high at an anti-terrorism rally organized in Ayodhya by BJP national general secretary and former local MP Vinay Katiyar, who sought to exhort locals to retaliate not only against terrorists but even more vehemently against those who patronized them.

"Those found to be shielding terrorists deserved even more severe punishment than those directly involved in the act ; and they must be allowed to take shelter in the name of human rights," Katiyar asserted while accusing the UPA government of "playing soft" against terror.

Katiyar was better known as a frontrunner of the Ram temple movement, touching its nadir with the demolition of the 16th century Babri Mosque in 1992, that triggered India's worst communal riots, that left hundreds dead.

He also demanded, "the ouster of Bangladeshi infiltrators , whom he pointedly charged as the "new harbourer" of terrorists. Accusing the Congress and its allies of "systematically allowing them to stay on in India because of the politics of vote", he demanded their "immediate ouster ."

Having lost the last general election, Katiyar is apparently now out to use terror as a plank for his political revival from Ayodhya, which was once his political bastion.

Having convened the rally in the wake of the recent serial blasts in Jaipur that left nearly 70 dead and over a 100 injured, Katiyar got a boost with several prominent sadhus of dozens of local Hindu institutions joining hands with him in the rally.

Their political design also became quite apparent with  the bulk of the sadhus repeatedly calling upon the audience to "vote for the right party that could deal firmly with terror."

 Ram Vilas Vedanti , a leading sadhu who is also the vice president of the Ramjanmbhoomi Trust said "The United Progressive Alliance government completely lacked the political will to deal with terror."

The only well - known saint who objected against using the occasion to further the interests of any political party was Gyan Das, who not only the president of an all India representative body of Hindu religious congregations, but was also the head priest of Ayodhya's oldest temple -- Hanuman Garhi.

"Our objective in assembling here was to raise a united voice against terror , not to push political agenda of anyone", Das told the gathering.

Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh BJP president Ramapati Ram Tripathi, who was chief guest at the rally, told the gathering , "We are not against Muslims but against those who shield terrorists."

Referring to suspected involvement of Harkat-ul Jehadi Islami in the Jaipur blasts, he said, "if the central government had nipped HuJI in the bud, it would not have extended its tentacles like this today."

A prominently emboldened slogan on banners all around the venue, said "Ram Lalla ki dharti par rishiyon-muniyon ne thana hai ; Bharat sahit puri duniya se , aatankwaad mitana hai (saints and sages have resolved to end terrorism not only from India but also from the entire world) . "

However that was not to dampen the spirits of organizer Katiyar or his sadhu allies who dominated the gathering . Some of them even went to the extent of seeking "elimination of terrorists as soon as they were caught."

They all flayed the UPA government for repealing the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Terming the move as a politically motivated one aimed as "Muslim appeasement" , Katiyar said, "if the BJP comes back to power, we will bring back such deterrent laws to curb terror."

Referring to the UPA government's "lack of political will leading to dithering over hanging to Afzal Guru, a key accused in the Indian parliament attack , Katiyar said, "I fail to understand how different leaders from Kashmir including its chief minister have been saying that Afzal Guru's hanging would cause an upheaval in the country."

Katiyar went on to add, "if we were to come to power, we would get him hanged on the very first day since the country's apex court had already awarded him a death sentence."

Katiyar proposes to hold similar "anti-terror" rallies in different parts of the country over the coming months.

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Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow