Sunday, February 25, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Return Ayodhya land, VHP tells PM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 24
Maintaining pressure on the National Democratic Alliance government, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad today had an hour-long meeting with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and demanded not only the immediate return of the 67 acres of acquired land in Ayodhya but also removal of all legal obstacles to pave the way for the construction of the Ram temple there.

The 13-member VHP delegation, in its meeting with Mr Vajpayee at his residence, also demanded a constitutional amendment to ban cow slaughter and immediate stopping of the work on the Tehri dam.

“We demanded immediate return of the 67 acres acquired by the government around the disputed site to enable us to build the four ‘Gopur Dwar’ (gateways) and removal of legal obstacles coming in the path of the temple’s construction by the next Mahashivratri as decided by the ‘Dharm Sansad’ in Allahabad last month”, the president of Ram Janmbhoomi Nyas, Mahant Paramhans Ramchandra Das, told newspersons here.

Mahant Ramchandra Das said the delegation also urged Mr Vajpayee to reactivate the Ayodhya cell in the Prime Minister’s Office.

The Prime Minister assured them that he would do whatever was possible within the constitutional framework, Mahant Das said.

In a calculated move, the VHP top leadership in close consultation with the Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh’s top brass has roped in noted environmentalist Sunderal Bahuguna in their act by raising the Tehri dam issue at the meeting.

According to reliable sources, Mr Bahuguna, who has acquired international status in the wake of his sustained opposition to the construction of Tehri dam, was asked to be part of the 13-member delegation and he reportedly agreed as the movement against the controversial dam was fast losing momentum.

Not only was Mr Bahuguna part of the delegation but Prof Narendra Puri of Roorkee University, Prof Devendra Swaroop Bhargava of Haridwar, Dr J.K. Grover of the AlIMS, and Mr Ansuiya Prasad Dobhal of Tehri were also included. Other members were the hardcore VHP members which included the organisation’s president, Mr Vishnu Hari Dalmiya, the working president, Mr Ashok Singhal, Lok Sabha MPs, Swami Avidyanath and Swami Chinmayanand, former Lok Sabha MP, Mr Gumanmal Lodha, Swami Avdeshanand and Swami Vidyanandgiri.

Talking about the Ayodhya issue, the Mahant said that the work on the ‘Garbha Griha’ (sanctum sanctorum) of the temple and its ‘shilanyas’ (foundation) was done during the tenure of earlier Prime Ministers, the late Rajiv Gandhi and Mr P.V. Narasimha Rao, respectively.

“We asked Mr Vajpayee that if the Ram temple is not built during his tenure as Prime Minister, when will it be built,” the Mahant said.

The VHP leaders demanded immediate stoppage of the construction work on the Tehri hydro-electric project dam on the grounds that it was located in a quake-prone zone.

“We told Mr Vajpayee that the work on the project should be stopped till an indepth scientific study is done. There should not be any construction beyond whatever has been built so far,” Swami Chinmayanad said.

While the environmentalist lobby led by Mr Bahuguna has been opposing Tehri dam on environmental grounds, the RSS parivar has been campaigning against the project on the ground that it would affect the river’s purity.

The delegation also demanded a constitutional amendment to make cow protection a fundamental right, a central legislation to ban cow slaughter and the creation of a Central Police Task Force to check alleged smuggling of cows to Kerala and Bangladesh for slaughter.

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