VHP rally tension escalates: Over 60 held, Singhal under house arrest

Agra: Fifty ascetics from Rajasthan headed by bus to Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh to undertake the 84-Kosi Parikrama were arrested around Saturday midnight at the Chauma Shahpur border and sent to jail temporarily.

Senior Superintendent of Police Shalabh Mathur said the ascetics will be lodged for a while at the police lines in Agra.

On Friday, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Ashok Singhal was placed under house arrest in Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh as part of the clampdown on the saints' community moving for the 84 'kosi parikrama' scheduled for August 25 from Ayodhya.


The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), which has been spearheading the movement, said 200 ascetics from Rajasthan began their journey Friday. So far, 64 of them have been arrested.

All borders have been sealed and vehicles are being screened to prevent people from undertaking the march, planned by the VHP to press for the resumption of religious activities at the contested Ayodhya site believed to be the birthplace of Lord Ram.

The local administration has imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, and asked people who have assembled for the march from August 22 to leave the area.

Police have announced that all seers proceeding to the town would be detained at entry points.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav met police officials and discussed the build-up of seers in Ayodhya on Friday. He also cancelled two important public engagements as he was monitoring the situation himself, sources told a news agency.

Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Arun Kumar presided over a meeting of police officials and asked them to maintain maximum vigil to prevent VHP cadres and other saffron outfits from sneaking into the prohibited areas.

Faizabad Divisional Commissioner Sanjay Prasad and Director General of Police BD Poslon also reviewed the situation.

Meanwhile, the VHP said that it would proceed with the yatra. "The seers will gather at the banks of the Saryu river in Ayodhya August 25 and proceed to Makhauda in Basti," Sharad Sharma, media in-charge of the 84 ‘kosi parikrama', told a news agency.

Singhal said the yatra would start on schedule and accused the Akhilesh Yadav government of precipitating a stand-off with the holy men.


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