Thursday, February 28, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Abandon Ayodhya plan, PM tells VHP
Home Minister warns of stern action
Tribune News Service

Pilgrims view a model of the proposed temple
Pilgrims view a model of the proposed temple dedicated to the Hindu God Ram in the holy city of Allahabad in this January 8, 2001 file photo. 
— Reuters photo

New Delhi, February 27
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today asked the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to abandon its Ayodhya campaign, stating “violence and agitations cannot help in resolving the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi issue.”

Expressing shock over the burning down of a coach of Sabarmati Express by some miscreants this morning at Godhra in Gujarat, Mr Vajpayee said the Ayodhya issue could be resolved either through negotiations or a court verdict.

Reiterating his government’s resolve to maintain harmony and peace in the country, he said all necessary steps would be taken in this regard.

Mr Vajpayee said the all-party meeting on Ayodhya yesterday agreed that the court should be asked to expedite hearings on the issue so that the controversial issue was amicably settled. “We are hopeful that the court would take necessary steps in this regard,” he said.

Giving details of the incident, the Prime Minister said the train was stopped probably because the passengers were raising slogans.

He feared that more deaths might occur following the fracas. An inquiry has been instituted to ascertain the facts.

“What happened and why it happened, will be investigated,” he said.

Concerned over the assembly of thousands of kar sevaks in Ayodhya, Home Minister L.K. Advani said the exercise could lead to flagrant defiance of court orders and warned the VHP that the government would not hesitate to take action to maintain law and order.

The VHP has “embarked on a course of action in Ayodhya which is fraught with dangerous consequences. Thousands are sought to be assembled in Ayodhya to take part in a mass exercise which can only lead to flagrant defiance of the court orders,” he said in a terse statement a day after the all-party meeting convened by the Prime Minister to discuss the temple issue.

Asking VHP leaders, particularly Mr Ashok Singhal, to abandon their present course of action, Mr Advani said. “If, however, they persist in their present approach, the government would not hesitate to take action against those who defy court orders or create problems for law and order”.

Asserting that it was the duty of the Centre as well as the Uttar Pradesh Government to ensure that court orders were not violated by anyone, the Home Minister said the developments in Ayodhya could, thus, precipitate a serious law and order problem.

“Crores of our countrymen want Ram Temple to be built at Ayodhya but they want it to be built lawfully and peacefully,” he said.


Sangh leaders meet PM, Singhal livid
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 27
Hours after Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee appealed to the VHP to call off the agitation on the Ayodhya temple, senior Sangh Parivar leaders met here to “convince him of the legality of returning the land acquired by the government in Ayodhya to Ram Janambhoomi Nyas (Trust)” to facilitate the construction of Ram temple from March 15.

Mr Ashok Singhal VHP chief, attended the hour-long meeting at Mr Vajpayee’s residence.

A visibly angry Singhal refused to speak to waiting mediapersons.


PM cancels visit to Australia
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 27
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has cancelled his week-long trip to Australia to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) because of the torching of the Sabarmati Express in which 56 persons were charred to death.

An official spokesman said here late tonight that the Prime Minister decided to cancel the already curtailed foreign tour because of the fresh tension in Gujarat and the continued belligerence of the VHP to go ahead with the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya from March 15. The spokesman said the Prime Minister was keen to oversee that things were brought under control.

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