Thursday, October 16, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Giriraj Kishore arrested
Our Correspondent and Agencies

Lucknow, October 15
Two days ahead of the VHP’s proposed ‘sankalp sammelan’ at Ayodhya, the police today arrested VHP international Vice-President Acharya Giriraj Kishore along with at least 1,200 activists while they were marching towards Ayodhya.

Acharya Giriraj Kishore and Uttar Pradesh and Uttranchal VHP president P.N. Singh were detained at the VIP Guest House at Dalibagh while the VHP workers were sent to the police lines. Raising slogans and singing bhajans, the VHP activists marched in column before they were arrested and taken to the police lines in state roadways buses.

Before their arrest, the VHP activists held a meeting at Niralanaga, renewing their pledge to build a temple at the disputed site at Ayodhya. The VHP activists, drawn from Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, reached the state capital despite a police clampdown.

Addressing the VHP workers at the meeting, Acharya Giriraj Kishore criticised the BJP-led Central Government for conniving with the Mulayam Singh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh for obstructing the ‘Ram bhakts’ from reaching Ayodhya.

“Over 1.78 lakh Ram bhakts, from outside Uttar Pradesh, are on their way to Ayodhya and over 40,000 Ram bhakts have either been detained or arrested in different parts of the state,” he said.

He said the Centre was equally guilty of the state government’s attempt to thwart the October 17 meeting of the VHP at Ayodhya.

He appealed to the Muslims to hand over the disputed site to the Hindus because the ASI’s excavation report had claimed to have found remnants of a temple.

Reports of arrests of ‘Ram bhakts’ continued to pour in from different parts of the state. The Chief Secretary claimed that over 7,000 ‘Ram bhakts’ had been arrested. The VHP activists were detained at Jhansi, Pratapgarh, Basti, Kanpur, Varanasi and Ballia.

As the Lucknow District Magistrate and the Senior Superintendent of Police took Mr Kishore in a car, hundreds of VHP activists squatted on the road. The police had to use force to clear the way even as hundreds of women activists tried to breach the barricade to continue the march. There was a minor stampede as some activists tried to use force to free themselves from police custody.

An undeclared curfew-like situation prevailed in the holy town. All persons moving towards Ramsevakpuram were being arrested.

In another development, the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court dismissed the writ petition of 33 VHP activists from Karnataka, seeking their release from what they termed as ‘illegal detention’ while they were on their way to Ayodhya on Monday.

The Uttar Pradesh police laid siege to VHP offices even as paramilitary forces staged flag march. The Chief Minister warned that any move to disturb status quo at the disputed site, violating court orders, would trigger anarchy and turmoil across the country.

CRPF and RAF personnel staged a flag march in some sensitive areas here, including the Ram Janmabhoomi complex, Karsevakpuram and Hanumangarhi.

ALLAHABAD: The police arrested Jyotishpeethadhiswar Jagatguru Shankaracharya Swami Basudevanand Saraswati on Wednesday while he was on way to Ayodhya for the October 17 VHP programme.

The Shankaracharya was accompanied by at least 10,000 ‘Ram bhakts’ when the police intercepted him in the Teliyarganj area. They later staged a dharna to protest his arrest and demanded that they be arrested with him.

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