Friday, November 15, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

VHP firm on yatra
Gujarat Government refuses permission

VHP leader Togadia
VHP leader Togadia at a press conference in Ahmedabad.

Ahmedabad, November 14
Preparing for a confrontation, the VHP vowed to defy the Election Commission ban on its controversial yatra from Sunday as the Gujarat Government refused permission to the Sangh Parivar outfit to carry out the march from Godhra.

On instructions from the commission, Panchmahal District Collector Manoj Agarwal today overturned the permission given by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Godhra from where the yatra is to begin.

Accusing Chief Election Commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh of misleading the nation and trying to impose his will on the masses, VHP International General Secretary Praveen Togadia told newsmen that the “padshahi yatra” would commence from Godhra, the place where 58 Ram sevaks were allegedly burnt in a rail coach on February 27.

Calling Godhra the “Somnath of Gujarat”, he said the yatra would end in Ahmedabad on December 6, the 10th anniversary of the demolition of the Babri masjid.

“I want to tell the nation that there will be no violence during our yatra. It is a yatra of saints and the religious freedom of expression should not be curbed”, he said a day after the Election Commission asked the state government not to allow the yatra on the ground it will raise communal passions and disturb peace.

The VHP leader also denied there were plans for a display of the replica of S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express that was torched on February 27, and said the report about it was “spread by media and not by the VHP”.

Mr Togadia said 2,000 saints from all over the country would join the yatra from various places and at certain places followers might congregate for a glimpse of the yatra.

Maintaining that the EC had no right to ban VHP’s yatra because it was a non-political organisation, Mr Togadia said the EC was guided by media reports and the ban was like “killing a child before it is even born”. The organisation had not even formally announced the programme to take out the yatra, he said. Mr Lyngdoh was trying to be the Chief Minister, Chief Secretary of Gujarat and Collector, he added.

The VHP leader also charged the CEC with “terrorising” the Gujarat bureaucracy. “We have received permission to commence the yatra from Godhra and if it is stalled, the message that would go is that Mr Lyngdoh has used fascist means to terrorise the bureaucracy here,”

He remarked, “Though there are only two major political parties in Gujarat, it now seems that there is a third one, which is represented by Mr Lyngdoh.”

Accusing him of “Congress leanings”, he said, “In Mount Abu, Mrs Sonia Gandhi behaved as if she is the Chief Minister of 15 states, and now Mr Lyngdoh is acting like a Congress president.”

Mr Togadia said Mr Lyngdoh could very well have asked the VHP for details of the yatra, but he went only by certain media reports.

Referring to the reported plans for the depiction of the S-6 coach during the yatra, he said, “We have never announced any such plan and it existed only in Mr Lyngdoh’s mind and in the name of S-6 coach, he banned the yatra.”

Describing Chhatrapati Shivaji as the protector of Hindutva, Mr Togadia said the slogan of the yatra would be “Har yuva bane Shivaji” (each youth should be like Shivaji). PTI

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