A day after Uttar Pradesh government blocked the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s chaurasi (84) kos yatra, calm prevailed in Ayodhya on Monday.
Though VHP volunteers and BJP workers staged sit-ins in various districts, the tension evoked by the aggressive posturing by both sides on Sunday seemed to have defused today.
VHP and BJP leaders such as Praveen Togadia, Ram Vilas Vedanti and Lallu Singh, who had been arrested and lodged at Faizabad district jail, have been shifted to Etah district jail. The rest of the arrested activists have been sent to Lucknow jail.
Faizabad district magistrate VK Dwivedi and senior superintendent of police KB Singh said the leaders will remain in 14-day judicial custody.
Markets opened in Ayodhya and people went on a brisk shopping spree. Many of the schools closed for the past three days also opened on Monday.
Today was the day of nationwide protest called by the VHP against the curbs on the yatra. Nearly 500 persons including VHP volunteers and BJP workers sat on a dharna at the collectorate in Lucknow.
Kamlawati, the state president of Mahila Morcha of BJP, said: “The state government did wrong by stopping the yatra. The police and administration acted as puppets of the state government.”
It was learnt the VHP cadres plan to burn effigies of the state government and senior minister and SP leader Azam Khan, whom they accuse of being the brain behind the ban on the yatra.
Vedanti said the yatra was important because the SP government has been planning to build an Islamic center on the yatra route.
Samajwadi Party Ayodhya MLA and UP minister, Pawan Pandey, however, said the lukewarm response to the yatra indicated that “the VHP and saffron brigade have been exposed”.
Inspector general of police (law and order) RK Vishwakarma said the police and security forces were on alert and violators of the ban were being arrested.
To drum up the support for the construction of Ram Temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya, ahead of the next Lok Sabha elections, the VHP had planned a march, named chaurasi (84) kosi yatra, in six districts neighbouring what the outfit terms “Ayodhya Kingdom”.
Fearing communal flare up, the SP government in the state had banned the yatra and blocked all the entry routes to these districts.