84 Kosi Yatra begins despite adamant SP Government
Dr Shakti Kumar Pandey from Ayodhya
The traditional ‘Chaurasi Kosi Yatra’ of Vishwa Hindu Parishad around Ayodhya began on the appointed date and time, despite the presence of huge contingents of security personnel in every nook and corner of the holy city, and despite Akhilesh Government constantly swearing to stop it. However, large number of Hindu leaders were arrested in Ayodhya and other parts of the State.
The yatra was kicked off at Saryu Ghat when Dr Pravin Togadia offered ‘puja’ before his arrest in Ayodhya. District Magistrate Vipin Dwivedi himself chased Bharatiya Janata Party’s former MLA Lalu Singh by his car to arrest him. VHP patron Ashok Singhal was arrested at Lucknow Airport after a 3-hour-long drama. The police was unable to make out how Dr Togadia entered Ayodhya when there was ban on the entry of the VHP leaders.
The VHP activists burnt the effigy of Cabinet Minister Mohammad Azam Khan, saying the ban was imposed on the yatra at his behest. More than 2600 leaders and activists were arrested in different parts of the state. About 700 arrests were made in Faizabad-Ayodhya. According to the Government figures, 625 arrests were made in Faizabad, 65 in Basti, 100 in Kanpur, 53 in Sultanpur, 59 in Ambedkar Nagar, 20 in Sant Kabir Nagar, four in Bahraich, 13 in Lucknow and 167 in Barabanki. Long queues of stranded trucks laden with essential commodities could be seen in Barabanki and Gonda as the administration had sealed off these two districts along with four others.
The UP Government had issued a statewide alert against VHP’s proposed agitation to be held at all district headquarters. State Home Secretary Kamal Saxena said the security in the six districts of Barabanki, Faizabad, Gonda, Basti, Ambedkar Nagar and Bahraich from where the yatra was to pass would not be lowered till September 13 or the date when the VHP calls off the yatra.
Dr Pravin Togadia and Ram Vilas Vedanti were detained in Ayodhya, BJP’s former MLA Lalu Singh was held in Faizabad, BJP MLA Savitri Bai Phule was arrested in Bahraich, BJP MLA Ramchandra Yadav was detained at Charbagh railway station in Lucknow. Mahant Nritya Gopal Das was arrested and then released in Ayodhya.
The State Government tried to create a curfew-like situation in Ayodhya. Most of the priests could not take the holy dip in the river Saryu due to restriction imposed by the police. The pilgrims were also asked not to venture out of their Dharmashalas or temples. All the markets were closed and people remained indoors. Except for the security personnel and mediapersons, none other could be seen on the roads since morning. Priests of various temples said the restrictions on Sunday reminded them of 1990’s when they were not allowed to open the temple doors. A pilgrim, Mukni Yadav from Bihar, said he and his wife could not attend the call of the nature as the authorities had locked all public toilets.
The entire route of the 84-kosi yatra covering six districts has been identified by the state police as the blue zone for security purpose. The disputed site at Ayodhya is declared the red zone and the entire Ayodhya along with the 5-kosi and 14-kosi parikrama route is the yellow zone for the security personnel.
Shri Ashok Singhal called upon the VHP activists not to fear from Government action and that all the saints and seers were committed to perform religious ritual at Shree Ram’s birth place and will built a Ram Temple.
Rambhaktas again defy ban and crackdowns in Ayodhya
Whenever Mulayam Singh Yadav or his party's Government tried to challenge the Rambhaktas, they replied in proper terms. It happened in Ayodhya again on August 25 when the 84 Kosi Parikrama Yatra began as per the schedule, despite arrests of senior saints and VHP leaders in or around Ayodhya and repeated crackdowns by Uttar Pradesh Government. The saints and VHP leaders kicked off the Yatra after performing Sarayu pujan, before the police could arrest them in Ayodhya.
Despite all crackdowns and restrictions imposed in six districts, the Parikrama Yatra still continues. According to VHP general secretary Shri Champat Rai, after taking rest near Ayodhya at night on August 25 the Rambhaktas skipped the police attention and reached Gosaiganj Bhitaura passing through Darshannagar. During the Yatra they also sang bhajans. “Despite strong vigil by the police and crackdown by the administration the Yatra still goes on. The saints are always ready for the protection of religious and cultural symbols. The VHP is also ready to materialise such resolves of the saints in every circumstances,” Shri Champat Rai said adding that no crackdown can demorlise the Rambhaktas.
Meanwhile, Sagra Peethadhishwar Abhichaitanya Brahmachari Maharaj has started indefinite fast in Amethi along with 52 devotees demanding restoration of Ramlala darshan and lifting of ban from the Parikrama Yatra.
Uproar in both houses of Parliament
The VHP’s 84 Kosi Parikrama Yatra in Ayodhya and subsequent developments paralysed the Parliament on August 26. The BJP and SP members created uproar leading to adjournments of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. In Loksabha, SP members trooped into the well, even as BJP members led by Aditya Nath protested strongly against UP Government.
Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh said, “It is a religious Yatra, which will be taken out by the saints. Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders. Some saints had met Mulayam Singh Yadav and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav a few days ago, the two had then said that there is no obstruction and we will make adequate security arrangements”. He told media outside the Parliament in New Delhi, “Now under whose pressure did they impose ban on this Yatra? The Constitution allows all religions to perform their respective practices. This is a religious Yatra and imposing a ban on it means acting against the Constitution” he added. Charging the Akhilesh Yadav led Samajwadi Party (SP) Government with politicising the“Chaurasi Kosi Parikrama Yatra” He alleged that Mulayam Singh Yadav wants to polarise Muslim votes in his favour.
Mulayam Singh Yadav said in Lok Sabha that the Ayodhya dispute was not new and the matter is pending in the court. He blamed the BJP for creating a situation of riots in the past. He said that the Supreme Court had issued a directive that no action should be taken until a decision has been made. He defended the party’s decision to ban the Yatra and said that they only followed what the Supreme Court asked them to do. We did not beat up anyone, we only maintained law and order.
Responding to the charges of the SP chief, BJP MP Yogi Adityanath said, “The UP Government has insulted saints. There were no politics in the Yatra. What kind of a Government is this? It bans Yatra and lets go the terror suspects”. “UP Government gives shelter to Jehadis and hurt the sentiments of Hindus.
In Rajya Sabha, the Parikrama issue rocked the house leading to three adjournments. SP members shouted slogans. BJP’s Vinay Katiyar slammed the UP Government for treating the saints, “Badly”. He said the state could have handled the situation with much more decorum. He demanded President’s rule in the State.”