The police on Friday arrested at least 14 saffron activists when they tried to cross into Makhauda temple complex in Basti, 20 km from Ayodhya, to conclude the VHP-sponsored 21-day-long Chaurasi Kosi Parikrama against ban orders.
According to reports, schools and shops remained open in Ayodhya and life went on normally till afternoon.
The saffron outfits had given the call to begin the Parikrama on August 25 to mobilise public opinion for Ram Temple construction in Ayodhya.
However, the Uttar Pradesh government had imposed the ban on the Parikrama in view of a communal flare-up it could trigger.
The government detained VHP leaders, including Pravin Togadia and Ashok Singhal along with 1,700 activists in the face of the their threat to defy the ban.
On Thursday, VHP spokesperson Sharad Sharma reiterated that the yatra would culminate at Makhbhumi (Makhauda) with yagya-pujan and bhandara (community feast).
To foil the bid, the police put about two dozen saffron activists along with key saffron leaders and saints under house arrest. They include BJP Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Katiyar, former BJP minister and ex-Ayodhya MLA Lallu Singh, Maniram Das Chavani’s priest Mahant Kamal Nayan Das, Digambar Akhara’s Mahant Suresh Das, Ramvalabhkunj’s Rajkumar Das, BJP former district president Mahant Manmohan Das, district secretary Abhishek Mishra in Ayodhya-Faizabad.
Basti superintendent of police (SP) VP Srivastava said, “We have deployed eight SP-rank officers, two companies of SSB and two companies of PAC, 80 sub- inspectors, 500 constables and 500 home guards to secure Makhauda”.
The security forces have also condoned off the Saryu Ghat area where some saffron activists wanted to perform pujas related to the Parikrama.
Prominent officials, including commissioner Sanjay Prasad, deputy inspector general (DIG) BD Palson, district magistrate (DM) Vipin Kumar Dwivedi, senior superintendent of police (SSP) KB Singh and are camping in the city.