1,600 held in crackdown on VHP meet

1,600 held in crackdown on VHP meet

1,600 held in crackdown on VHP meet

Over 1,600 Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) workers and BJP activists, including senior leaders, were arrested in different parts of Uttar Pradesh on Friday as the state authorities launched a massive crackdown to foil the VHP's proposed “sankalp sabhas” (meetings to resolve to reconstruct a Ram Temple) at Ayodhya. The outfit, however, claimed that the programme was successful.

Officials here said no VHP meeting could take place at Ayodhya, but ordinary devotees took a dip in the holy Saryu river on the occasion of “Sharad Purnima” on Friday without a hitch.

VHP veterans Champak Rai, Ram Vilas Vedanti, Sharad Sharma and other senior leaders were arrested in Ayodhya after they tried to hold a meeting, said sources.

BJP MP from Gorakhpur Mahant Adityanath was arrested in Gonda, while on his way to Ayodhya to take part in the meetings.

Over 100 BJP workers were taken into custody at Allahabad when they tried to leave for Ayodhya to participate in the meetings. The administration had constructed makeshift jails in Faizabad to accommodate the arrested workers.

A large number of VHP workers, however, managed to enter the famous Hanumangarhi temple in Ayodhya and the VHP headquarters at Karsevakpuram, where they reportedly took a pledge to construct a Ram Temple.

The police had a tough time trying to apprehend the VHP workers who had locked the temple from inside.

There were also reports of minor scuffles between the police and VHP members at some places in the temple town.

Massive security arrangements had been made in and around Ayodhya to prevent the sankalp sabhas from taking place. The borders of the Faizabad district as well as Ayodhya had been sealed, and people and vehicles were allowed in only after thorough checks, said official sources here on Friday.

The town of Ayodhya had been divided into six zones for security purposes, each under the command of a senior police official. Local intelligence units had also been put on alert, and asked to inform senior officials of any attempt by VHP workers and leaders to reach Ayodhya.

The government had on Monday banned the sankalp sabhas citing law and order issues, and said that they could vitiate the atmosphere in the state.

Officials in Faizabad said in the evening that the situation in the district was normal and restrictions had been lifted.

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