Saturday, March 9, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Curbs in Ayodhya to be eased
Efforts on to find venue for March 15 puja
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

Union Minister for State for Home Affairs I.D. Swami with Mahant Ramchandra Das Paramhans in Ayodhya on Friday.
Union Minister for State for Home Affairs I.D. Swami with Mahant Ramchandra Das Paramhans in Ayodhya on Friday. — PTI photo

Ayodhya, March 8
The written assurance given by the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Ram Janambhoomi Nyas (RJN) to await and abide by the court verdict about the disputed site has prompted the government to provide some relaxation on the movement of people into Ayodhya and find a “face saver” for allowing a symbolic puja of carved pillars here in a peaceful manner on March 15.

According to government and VHP sources, efforts are on to identify a place where the VHP with the representation of Ram sevaks could perform the puja of carved pillars without violating the status quo as ordained by the Supreme Court.

In this background, the visit of Union Minister of State for Home I.D. Swami here today assumes great significance. While on the one hand Mr Swami announced the government’s intention to relax the heavy security bandobast, he is understood to have sought the assurance of VHP and nyas leaders that they will not do anything which will vitiate the atmosphere and cause embarrassment and whip up trouble for the Vajpayee government.

Although Mr Swami maintained that he had come to assess the ground situation in this temple town and recommend some relaxation in the security drill to facilitate the common people, he held three separate close-door meetings with the seers of five prominent temples, President of R.J.N. Mahant Ramchandra Das Paramhans and senior district officials of Faizabad.

The problems faced by the people was discussed at length at these meetings. Most importantly, Mr Swami is understood to have put before them the compromise formula outlined by the Shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam Jayendra Saraswati and sought their assurance on its implementation in letter and spirit.

Earlier, addressing a press conference, Mr Swami said as part of relaxation, some trains would start plying via Faizabad and the local people would be allowed to move around if they carry photo identity cards issued by the Election Commission.

“The Union Government is concerned about the inconvenience faced by the local people and that is why I have come here to assess the situation on the ground and recommend some relaxation.” He disclosed that orders have already been issued to Northern Railway to start operation of trains to Ayodhya/Faizabad.

However, Mr Swami pointed out that due to the threat from terrorist organisations, people will have to put up with search and checking operations as well as the barricades put up by the security forces.

To a question whether allowing of pilgrims into the city will not enable Kar sevaks to enter the holy city in a big way, Mr Swami shot back saying, “If the administration uses its brain then they can easily differentiate between a Ram sevak and ordinary pilgrims. A balance can be struck easily.”

In this regard, he pointed that there seems to be some “communication gap” between the Central and the state governments which needed to be removed immediately.

Mr Swami, who returned to Delhi this evening, will submit his report to Union Home Minister L.K. Advani and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

However, the local administration is wary of relaxation as it feels that any such move could prove disastrous.

The local people are confused and keeping their fingers crossed as the March 15 deadline given by the VHP to move the carved pillars to the “undisputed land” in Ayodhya is fast approaching.

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