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Ayodhya: security beefed up to stop VHP yatra

india Updated: Aug 23, 2013 16:55 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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After a gap of about three years Ayodhya is again gripped under tight security. The last occasion was the verdict day on Ram-Mandir issue in September 2010 and this time it is due to VHP sponsored 84-Kosi Pad-Yatra of saints and their followers starting from August 25. The para military forces deployed here took out a flag march in the afternoon.

The ban imposed by the state government on 84-Kosi Pad-Yatra created a critical situation and local residents of Ayodhya and Faizabad are forced to realize the agony of security restrictions. The day to day business of Ayodhya, mostly based on religious tourism, is almost reaching at the distracting edge due to a fearful ambiance and considerably reduced number of visitors.

Ayodhya’s shrines, which were witnessing a huge influx of pilgrims during Sawan Mela (spanned from August 9 to August 21, 2013) are now waiting for devotees to come at the door-steps after August 22. Instead, the troops of various central and state security forces are available at about 21 barriers en route to temple-town and regularly performing route march on the streets of Ayodhya.

District administration is organizing ward wise meetings of peace committees on regular basis in Ayodhya (under the supervision of SDM Ram Sahai Yadav and CO Tarkeshwar Pandey) and prepared a list of 70 persons who would be strategically arrested by today or tomorrow.
Commissioner Faizabad region Sanjay Prasad, DIG Faizabad range B.D. Palsan, DM Faizabad V.K. Dewedi and SSP Faizabad K.B. Singh jointly working on the strategy for maintain law and order during VHP’s proposed 84-Kosi Parikrama. These officers are scrutinizing the situation daily and sending reports to the state government.

Campus of N.D. University of Agriculture and Technology, Kumarganj, Rashtriya Vidyapeeth, Pithala and Chandra Bali Singh Degree college, Kumarganj has been converted into temporary jails to detain the expected participants of 84-Kos padyatra. DIOS Faizabad Manbhawan Ram Rajbhar confirmed that administration is seeking to convert about 20 more schools and colleges into temporary jails for the purpose. The listed schools and colleges would be handed over to the district administration from August 25 till further orders.

VHP’s International Secretary, Champat Rai, who is the convener of Yatra is supposed to be staying in Ayodhya but he changed his mobile SIM and nobody in VHP’s local unit is ready to disclose his whereabouts. VHP’s control office ‘Karsevakpuram’ is blank from visitors and only Sharad Sharma, VHP’s spokes person is available there. Mr. Sharma clarified that the proposed program is not ‘Parikrama’ as is being publicized by the SP led government. Rather it is a kind of ‘Pad-Yatra’ scheduled by saints in their consecutive meetings at Prayag-Kumbha and at Haridwar about 3-6 months ago.

He added that general public is not invited to be the part of proposed ‘Pad-Yatra’, instead it is confined to the Saints and Mahanthas. On the other hand BJP’s district president Ram Krishan Tiwari stated that BJP’s worker will also join Pad-Yatra to answer the state government’s ban. He added that the ‘Pad-Yatra’ is not a political stunt rather SP government banned the Yatra to recieve its political benefit.

VHP’s district president Vindhyavasini Prasad Mishra said that organization is not going to withdraw the program of Padyatra on any cost. He added that the ban on Padyatra may reduce the number of participants but to forbid Saints and Mahanthas from executing Padyatra would be difficult for the government.

VHP has released the proposed program of Pad-Yatra starting from Sunday August 25, 2013. Saints from Kanpur and Jaipur regions will start Padyatra at 10 AM from Saryu Ghat on Sunday.

Saints from Middle-India region on August 26, from Kashi region on August 27, from Jharkhand region on August 28, from Awadh region on August 29, from Maha-Kaushal-Chittaud region on August 30, from Meerut region on August 31, from North Bihar region on September 2, from Konkad region on September 3, from West Maharastra region on September 4, from South Gujrat region on September 5, from Brij and Jodhpur region on September 6, from Punjab and Hariyana region on September 7, from North Gujrat and Himanchal Pradesh region on September 8 from Bengal and Jammu region on September 10, from South Bihar and Odisa region on September 11 and from Chattisgarh region on Septembet 12 will join Pad-Yatra at different places.

Pad-Yatra will pass through 600 villages of 6 surrounding districts and various programs at 40 different places on the track are scheduled.
On first day of Pad-Yatra, August 25, VHP supremo Ashok Singhal, Mahantha Nritya Gopal Das and Swami Ram Bhadracharya are expected to start the program. Contrarily, Mahantha Nritya Gopal Das said that he would perhaps be not available for Pad-Yatra as he is going to Mathura on the day.