Wednesday, March 13, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Major climbdown by VHP
To offer shilas if SC rejects symbolic puja
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

VHP chief Ashok Singhal and Paramhans
VHP chief Ashok Singhal and Paramhans address a Press conference in Ayodhya on Tuesday. — PTI photo

Ayodhya, March 12
Striking a conciliatory note on the eve of a crucial hearing in the Supreme Court, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas today said if the court verdict did not allow symbolic puja at the undisputed land on March 15 they would offer a fabricated pillar at the makeshift Ram temple instead of symbolic puja.

VHP International Working President Ashok Singhal today made it clear that whatever the kar sevaks do on March 15 it would be done “in an extremely peaceful manner.”

“I have promised the government and even told Uttar Pradesh Governor yesterday in Lucknow that whatever programme we conduct will be peaceful,” he said.

Addressing a joint press conference here along with Nyas President Ramchandra Das Paramhans, Mr Singhal said they were hopeful of a favourable verdict. But in case the Supreme Court did not give permission to carry out the puja, Paramhans along with a “small group” of 2,000 people including, sants, VHP leaders and Ram sevaks would take a fabricated pillar to the makeshift shrine for offering.

Stating the fabricated pillar would be handed over to the Receiver (Faizabad Commissioner) of the makeshift temple and a receipt in that regard will be obtained by the Nyas leaders, Mr Singhal said If prevented “we will court arrest.”

Today’s announcement of the VHP seems to be an attempt by the outfit to have a face saver for itself under the circumstances where the Vajpayee government has made it very clear that it will not allow performance of symbolic puja and would only implement the apex court’s verdict in the matter.

Maintaining that the VHP did not have any fight against the government or anyone else and wanted a peaceful resolution of the issue, Mr Singhal said all hindrances coming in the way of the Ram temple construction were politically motivated. He hoped that the Supreme Court’s decision would help Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to arrive at some kind of a positive conclusion.

Accusing the Prime Minister of playing in the hands of the Administration (of Faizabad district), Mr Singhal said the rejection of Minister of State for Home I D Swami’s recommendation for relaxation of security arrangements to lessen the inconvenience to common people in Ayodhya reflected how Mr Vajpayee was being misled by the bureaucracy.

Mr Singhal said Mr Vajpayee was facing problems from four quarters: the Opposition, NDA partners, the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and bureacracy. “We do not wish to add to his (Mr Vajpayee’s) difficulties,” he added.

Referring to the thick blanket of security thrown by the administration in the holy city, the VHP leaders accused the Faizabad district administration of creating apprehension and fear about possible outbreak of violence and terrorist attack.

On the mediation of Shankara-charya Jayendra Saraswati, the VHP leader said hopes were raised on the amicable resolution of the Ayodhya issue, but things became different after the stand taken by the AIMPLB.

Despite the rejection of Shankaracharya formula by the AIMPLB there was a growing realisation among some Muslim intelligentsia for a peaceful and amicable resolution of Ayodhya issue, he said.

Meanwhile, the state administration, which is keeping a close watch on the various moves made by VHP and Nyas leaders, made it clear that any offering of the carved pillars from the VHP and Nyas could be accepted by it only under clear instructions from the government.

It also reiterated that there would not be any let up in the security arrangements and rather it would be strengthened further to prevent build up of Ram sevaks in Ayodhya and to ensure that there is no alteration in the status quo of the disputed site.

The district administration has already put the Army on alert and has summoned the services of 10 more companies of central para-military forces, including one company of the Rapid Action Force, taking the total deployment of central forces to 78 companies.

Meanwhile, differences among chiefs of akharas here on the VHP’s proposed shila offering ceremony came to the fore, with mahants of Nirmohi Akhara and Hanuman Ghari Akhara openly opposing the Hindu outfit’s move and also questioning its locus standi in the title suit case pending before the court.

He maintained that carved shilas could not be offered at Ram temple as per Hindu rituals and practices.

Endorsing the views of Mahant Jagannath Das, chief of Hanuman Ghari Akhara Mahant Gyan Das demanded immediate arrest of VHP and Nyas leaders, including Ashok Singhal for misleading the people on the Ayodhya issue and creating communal tension across the country.

Mahant Gyan Das charged that it was because of the utterances of the VHP and Nyas leaders that Ayodhya city had been converted into a cantonment severely affecting the local people.



Receiver unaware of ‘shila dan’ plan

Ayodhya, March 12
The situation at Ayodhya took another turn today when the receiver of the complex Dr Anil Kumar Gupta, claimed to be unaware of “shila dan” programme of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad scheduled for March 15 announced today.

Dr Gupta, also the Commissioner of Faizabad division, said he had not received any intimation from the VHP or the Ram Janambhumi Nyas in this regard. “The administration would not allow any new tradition to start”, he asserted. UNIBack

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