Given the surcharged atmosphere the state is in because of the sectarian violence in Muzaffarnagar, the UP government is taking all steps to prevent a fresh build-up of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s (VHP’s) chaurasi kos yatra.
The police on Thursday started a crackdown on VHP leaders and volunteers in Lucknow as well as in other districts of Uttar Pradesh.
Five VHP leaders including Swami Chinmayanand, Rameshwar Das and Parmatmanand were taken into custody at Amausi airport in Lucknow when they landed here on their way to Ayodhya.
Senior VHP leader Ramvilas Vendanti was taken into custody in Basti district. Arrests and raids took place in other districts of east UP too.
“West UP is in the grip of communal tension and we will not allow the spark of Muzaffarnagar to spread to other parts of the state by giving a free run to the saffron brigade,” said a senior police officer.
The VHP has planned to conclude the 20-day journey (of 305 km) that they had failed to launch on August 25, in Makhaura town of Basti district on Friday.
Top VHP leaders Ashok Singhal and Parveen Togadia are expected to participate in the programme.
Principal secretary (home) RM Srivastava said the state government had banned the journey as the traditional chaurasi kos padyatra, organised by pilgrims visiting Ayodhya, was completed between April 25 and May 20. The officers had been told to deal with VHP leaders firmly if they insisted on carrying on with the programme at Makhaura, he said.