Ashok Singhal, Dr Togadia, saints and Rambhaktas released after High Court order
After the nationwide protest, which also sounded in Parliament on August 26, the VHP veteran Shri Ashok Singhal, president Dr Pravin Togadia and all senior saints were released from police arrest on August 26 evening. However, the UP Government did not lift the ban on Parikrama Yatra.
Allahabad High Court on August 26 ordered the release of all the arrested VHP leaders. Hundreds of saints and VHP leaders had been arrested in a massive crackdown by Uttar Pradesh government on August 25. The Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court, on a habeas corpus petition, ordered the release of Shri Singhal, Dr Togadia and the seers – arrested by police for fear of disturbance of peace – if they were not wanted in any other case. Shri Singhal and 958 VHP activists were released.
Following the arrest of senior saints and VHP leaders in and around Ayodhya, the VHP and Bajrang Dal workers staged protest across the country on August 26. They also burnt the effigies of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and submitted memorandums to President of India.
Addressing thousands of protestors at Jantar Manter in New Delhi VHP spokesperson Prakash Sharma said arresting Sadhus-saints and VHP leaders after banning the 84 Kosi Yatra is unconstitutional, undemocratic and barbaric for which the Akhilesh Government would face the consequences. Swami Raghavanand, Mahant Surendra Nath Avadhoot and Mahant Naval Kishor Das raised questions whether Hindus have to ask politicians before conducting any religious Yatra or performing the rituals? Do they not have any fundamental rights or religious freedom?
VHP vice president Shri Om Prakash Singhal, central secretary Shri Dharm Narayan Sharma, state president Shri Swadeshpal Gupta, general secretary Shri Satyendra Mohan and many others also addressed the gathering. A memorandum was presented to President of India seeking his immediate intervention in the matter to restore fundamental rights of Hindus and help constructing a glorious temple of lord Ram on his place of birth.
In Hyderabad, the protest was organised at Dharna Chowk at Indira Park to condemn the ban on the Yatra. VHJP secretary Shri Y Raghavulu also joined the protest. Later, a delegation submitted a memorandum in the Governor’s Office.
In Bangalore, the protest was held in front of the Town Hall at 10.30 am. Hundreds of VHP volunteers demonstrated against the UP government. The protesters shouted slogans against the UP government and demanded earliest release of the saints and VHP leaders. Bajaranga Dal state chief Shri K Suryanarayana Rao addressed the gathering.
In Mangalore, while addressing the protestors, VHP president Shri MB Puranik said the 84 Kosi Parikrama was a devotional and peaceful trip to Ayodhya and was carried out every year by the activists of VHP, Bajrang Dal or the devotees. “The prime reason of organising this yatra is to construct Shri Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. Now after the court verdict and excavation there is no doubt about the temple there. Therefore, the land should immediately be handed over to Hindus for building the temple,” he said.
In Chennai, the VHP organised a protest in front of Chennai Collectorate condemning the ban 84 Kosi Parikrama. Led by Era Meyappan, state president, and Shri Su Srinivasan, state secretary, and Muruganandam, Chennai division Secretary of VHP hundreds of activists participated. After the demonstration, a delegation of VHP leaders presented a Memorandum to the Chennai Collector, addressed to President of India to intervene in enacting law in Parliament in facilitating the construction of grand Shri Ram Mandir.
After launching the Yatra symbolically on the given date and time, the very next day large scale demonstrations were held across the state by Hindu organisations in protest against state government’s atrocities on Rambhaktas. The VHP workers held demonstrations in many parts of the to protest against the state government’s crackdown. The workers took out processions in Allahabad, Varanasi, Kanpur, Meerut and other places and shouted anti-government slogans. In Allahabad, the police took into custody several VHP workers and also placed a senior seer under house arrest.
Security continued to be tight in Ayodhya and other places as police decided not to take chance in view of the VHP’s protests. A report from Etah said the VHP activists burnt the effigy of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, violating section 144 in the district. The activists also raised anti-government slogans and escaped when police came to arrest them on Railway road. The VHP is also slated to bring out a big march and give their arrest later in the day in Etah city against the State Government’s action.
Besides Etah, the activists also staged huge demonstration in all the districts particularly protests were held in Kanpur, Auraiya, Lucknow, Barabanki, Ghazipur, Bulandshahr, Jhansi, Aligarh, Meerut, Varanasi, Allahabad and Gorakhpur. They burnt the effigies of the chief minister and raised slogan against the dictatorial attitude of the government for stopping them from taking out a religious procession ‘Chaurasi-Kosi-Parikrama’.
In Allahabad, scores of VHP activists, along with saints, protested against the state government act. The police also detained around 350 workers. Meanwhile, volunteers of Akhil Bharatiya Teerth Purohit Mahasangh staged a demonstration and handed over a memorandum to the administration addressed to the President.
(With inputs from Dr Shakti Kumar Pandey from Lucknow, Vishwa Samvad Kendras in Chennai, Bangaluru and Hyderabad)
Muslim intelligentsia slams UP Government for ban
The SP’s love for Muslims seems to be taking an ugly turn. It used all its power to stop the VHP Yatra, which was a purely religious affair, as if the sky will fall if the holy ‘Yatra’ is undertaken. And all this at the behest of the ‘Real Chief Minister of UP’ and self-styled Muslim leader Azam Khan. Interestingly, an important body of teachers of Aligarh Muslim University did not relish the UP Government’s move. They said that the government has disrupted communal harmony by banning the religious yatra of the VHP.
Addressing a meeting of ‘Forum for Muslim Studies and Analysis’, Prof. Raza Ullah Khan said the government should have given the permission to the VHP to undertake its Yatra. He added that this would have strengthened the communal harmony in the state. ‘Forum for Muslim Studies and Analysis’ is a body of Muslim intelligentsia formed by the senior professors of Aligarh Muslim University. The secretary of the Forum Mr. Zaseem Mohammed said when Mulayam Singh had agreed during a meeting with the VHP leaders, he should not have betrayed them. He added that as per the plan only 200 saints were going to participate in the Yatra, but now the entire state is involved in the VHP movement. Prof. Humayun Murad said that the Hindus are generally peace-loving people, and the Yatra would have ended very silently. But the government infuriated them by unnecessarily imposing the ban. Prof. Shahabuddin Iraqui said that organising religious yatra is a fundamental right which cannot be taken away from them. Instead of imposing a ban, the government should have provided proper security to the participants, he added. Dr. Mohammed Shaahid said that the government was just trying to gain political mileage out of the ban. Dr. Fatima Zehra said that instead of gaining politically the Samajwadi party has strengthened the rival camp of the BJP.