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Togadia allowed to proceed to Ayodhya

By J.P. Shukla

Photo: Akhilesh Kumar

Swami Ramkamaldas Vedanti addressing VHP activists at Karsevakpuram in Ayodhya on Saturday. The VHP president, Ashok Singhal, and the outfit's general secretary, Praveen Togadia, are also seen.

LUCKNOW Oct. 18. A day after the Uttar Pradesh Government foiled the Vishwa Hindu Parishad's attempts to organise a "sankalp sammelan" [meet to take a pledge for the construction of a Ram temple] at Ayodhya, the authorities today ignored their congregation within the precincts of Karsevakpuram in Ayodhya where the VHP leaders called upon its activists not to rest till a Ram temple was constructed at the disputed site.

While security arrangements continued to remain in force, restrictions on the movement of people were withdrawn on Friday evening. As the arrested VHP activists were released, they returned to Ayodhya and at one point of time their number was estimated at about 35,000. The VHP leaders insisted that the `Ram bhakts" would return only after having "darshan" of Ram lalla and most of them abided by the directive.

The VHP held its "sankalp sammelan" this afternoon which was addressed, among others, by Pravin Togadia, Ashok Singhal and Mahant Nritya Gopal Das.

The change in the Government's attitude towards the VHP activities was also reflected in its decision first to detain Mr. Togadia at Lucknow and then allow him to proceed to Ayodhya to address "Ram bhakts" at Karsevakpuram. As Mr. Togadia arrived here today, he was whisked away by police to a rest house in Utretia, on the outskirts of Lucknow. However, he was allowed proceed to Ayodhya in the afternoon with a group of officials and police personnel escorting him.

The Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary, A.P. Singh, said that Mr. Togadia was taken into custody as his visit to Ayodhya was likely to create law and order problems. However, on Mr. Togadia's assurance, he was then allowed to proceed.

"He is being escorted by government officials and in case peace is threatened, action can be taken against him any time," Mr. Singh said.

He said that about 10,000 persons were present at Karsevakpuram today.

The authorities accelerated the pace of `darshan' of Ram lalla and, today the number of pilgrims who had `darshan' went up to more than 10,000. The VHP activists started moving out and arrangements to drop them at the nearest stations were made.

The situation was normal and there was no apprehension of any breach of peace, Mr. Singh said.

At the "sankalp sammelan", the VHP leaders blamed the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mulayam Singh Yadav, for placing hardships in the path of "Ram bhakts".

This was a "clear violation" of their democratic and human rights, they alleged.

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