Ayodhya turned into fortress, hundreds arrested


Lucknow, Aug 24 (IANS) The Uttar Pradesh government Saturday arrested hundreds of saints and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists as they tried to march towards Ayodhya for the proposed ’84 kosi parikrama’ (procession) beginning Sunday.

Police officers said 46 saints were arrested in Kanpur while 42 were nabbed in Agra.

Security and checking at the borders of Uttar Pradesh with Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar and Chhattisgarh were stepped up. In all, 339 saints have so far been held from Agra, Jhansi, Kanpur, Banda, Fatehpur, Basti and other districts, home department officials told IANS.

Additional security forces have been sent to Ayodhya, Ambedkarnagar and Gonda, police officials said. Saturday, only 80 percent of state roadways bus fleet plied on the Faizabad route where more than 52 check points and barriers have been erected.

Several prominent seers, including Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, have urged the state government and officials to allow the peaceful passage of the ’84 kosi parikrama’.

Meanwhile, VHP leaders have gone underground and are refusing to talk to the media but maintain they will discreetly reach Ayodhya early Sunday.

The dispute is centred on a plot of land in Ayodhya of Faizabad district in Uttar Pradesh. The issues revolve around access to a site traditionally regarded as the birthplace of the Hindu deity Ram, the history and location of the Babri Mosque at the site, and whether a previous Hindu temple was demolished or modified to create the mosque.

— Indo-Asian News Service