To crack down on saffron, the state government has flooded the six districts around Ayodhya with khaki. Not just the state police, the central paramilitary forces are out in strength ahead of Sunday's showdown with the VHP.
The state government means business. With the Sangh Parivar mustering its forces in earnest, a flare-up at Ayodhya would be damaging for the ruling SP in next year's Lok Sabha polls.
"If the VHP insists on continuing the chaurasi kos padyatra, the state will deal with it firmly," reiterated RM Srivastava, principal secretary, home, on Thursday.
The state has left no stone unturned. The Centre has been asked to send paramilitary forces, 25 temporary jails have been set up and the movement of the top VHP leaders is under the scanner.
The police have been directed to crack down on VHP activists. Trains, buses and other vehicles on way to Ayodhya would be checked and suspicious persons taken into custody, said a home department official. The administrations of all six districts, through which the yatra was to pass, have imposed Section 144 prohibiting assembly of people.
The Centre agreed to send 10 companies Rapid Action Force, who are to be deployed across Faizabad, Bahraich, Gonda, Ambedkarnagar, Basti and Barabanki. One company has already been deployed in Ayodhya town.
On its part, the VHP is deploying its men to ensure the execution of the saffron plan. Sources in the VHP said its units across 600 villages have been alerted. The local leaders may go underground to avoid possible arrest, said a VHP insider.